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.