Is Fiction Dead (Again)?

I would like to thank Carolyn Kellogg of the LA Times’ “Jacket Copy” blog for debunking (point by point no less!) the truly tired argument made by Lee Siegel of the New York Observer that — once again — fiction is dead.

Some of Kellogg’s points are true Ouch! moments, like when she debunks Siegel’s assertion that the New Yorker‘s much-criticized “20 Under 40” list of up-and-coming authors had spawned no counterlists.  Kellogg hyper-links to multiple serious and satirical counterlists.

But, most of Kellogg’s critique is amusing because it reveals how remarkably incoherent and nonsensical Siegel’s arguments can be.  He makes a muddled comparison of “obsession” and “clarity,” tries to contrast the past with the present by use of synonyms, depl0ys a definition of literary doom that fails analogy to other artforms, twice confuses the rise of non-fiction with the fall of fiction, and gets “issues of popularity, commercialism and literariness … all jumbled up.”

It’s a good read.  Click it, because (as I just mentioned) it’s a good read.

Of course, considering Siegel’s proven disregard for the boundaries between reality and falsehood (Sprezzatura anyone?) it’s not surprising that he is unable to recognize the thunderous pulse still driving blood through the ever-quick veins of Fiction.

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  1. I’ve often had the feeling that Siegel doesn’t even read that which he critiques. He’s often that far off-base. I’d shudder to think what would happen were he allowed to assign genres to books.

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