Prufrock's Page

Sunday, January 14, 2007

The Decline Of Fiction

Rod Liddle throws aside Updike's Terrorist after reading merely 64 pages, and wonders what has happened to contemporary fiction, why it's lost the power to shock and why it ought to return to its role of an ice-ax to break the frozen sea inside all of us: "Literary fiction, it seemed to me, had stopped doing what literary fiction does best: getting beneath the skin of a subject, to the viscera, without even always intending to so do. It had started being like every other form of mass entertainment, aiming wide and broad, hoping to alienate nobody."

It's a persuasively-argued piece, one that references Banville's review of McEwan's Saturday, the Ben Marcus-Jonathan Franzen dust-up and dwells on the strengths of today's non-fiction titles. But one was more than a tad surprised to find, in his list of books that "can still disturb and enlighten", Martin Amis' Yellow Dog. Why, one threw that book aside oneself, and well before page 64.


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