Prufrock's Page

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The GAN? It's Gone

There was a time when British novelists looked over their shoulders to find their American counterparts trumping them in every way, be it in style, ambition or theme. (Martin Amis, for one, has always been open about his admiration for Saul Bellow.) The Great American Novel always seemed to be around the corner, whether that corner was in Manhattan or in the Deep South. But now, says John Walsh, with the passing of Norman Mailer and the senescence of his contemporaries, it's time to sing a sad elegy for that mythical beast. Yet, as Walsh doesn't point out, though the novel may be in less grandoise hands in the States, the short story continues to thrive -- as a look at The New Granta Book of The American Short Story edited by Richard Ford will reveal. Ironically, it's perhaps this emphasis on short fiction in American writing programs that leads short story writers to come up with novels that, though competent and well-judged, are less than great. (Now, a moment's silence to recall the words of Nadine Gordimer, who claimed that the short story was the form for our age, "where contact is more like the flash of fireflies, in and out, now here, now there, in darkness. Short-story writers see by the light of the flash; theirs is the only thing one can be sure of - the present moment.")


  • Welcome back.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:51 PM  

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