The State of Literature…

is that it is in quite a scary state.  A state of artistic paralysis defined by academic buddy systems and political correctness gone mad.  Novels are supposed to be STORIES.  Yes, that’s right lovely scribes, tales about people doing things.  Not thinking about doing things and then describing how they feel about their indecision for three hundred pages.  Nope, I’m talking good old fashioned interesting plots played out by characters who are colourful, verbal and interesting.  I don’t know about you, but if I wanted to listen to someone bellyache, I don’t need to plunk down twenty five bucks to hear it.  Hell no!  I can call up at least six people I know and let them puke in my ear for an hour, safe in the knowledge I’ve saved some coinage.   Literature has limped along the genre laden path and at the bend in the road it’s turned into one very very very very long sob story. A therapy session written by tedious hacks who have no concept of life in the real world.  The pathetic truth is this:  the academic puppets of big business publishing, have destroyed this art form by controlling content and the only thing more sacred to a writer than the words themselves:  style.    Their hubris is galling when they act as judges for certain literary contests, where they determine what is or is not acceptable and frequently it’s the verbose navel gazing that isn’t even slightly acquainted with such tools of the trade as grammar, sentence structure or quotation marks when a character is speaking!  We are descending into a pit of illiteracy and no one seems to give a shit because all the little writers are placed in their appropriate genres, never to move lest we upset the pigeon hole brigade.  Everyone is getting paid exorbitant amounts of money from large publishing giants by making a farce of the writing profession by confessing they don’t actually write their novels. Apparently, a sound marketing background is the newest requirement for being a novelist.  It does assure their sales success, if not artistic integrity. Of course I can only be referring to the book of the month club philistine, James Patterson, who jots down an idea and passes it along to an in house hack to flesh out. In house writers are becoming more and more common.  They write what their bosses tell them to, never deviating from the formula that sells.   Most of the authors on the shelves are not qualified to write the ingredient list on a pack of toilet paper, let alone write a book.  It’s a sorry state of affairs, is it  not good scribes?  I highly doubt that Steinbeck, Hemingway, Plath, Salinger, Mitchell, Twain, Richler, Leacock, Dickens, Bronte, Eliot, Shelley,Chekhov, Proust, Parker, Orwell, Dahl, Wyndham, Capote etc had to explain their platform and marketing strategy to their publishers to prove the worth of their work.  Free speech is dying, one artist at a time and consumer ignorance and corporate greed are the murderers.

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Author: valo

I am a poet, writer and activist with a special interest in human rights for children and women as well as the elimination of poverty worldwide. If you read this today, feed someone locally for me will you? Drop off a non perishable food item at the food bank nearest you and consider yourself hugged. Thank you!

11 thoughts on “The State of Literature…”

  1. I don’t read many books that are written now (except non-fiction) – got too many to read from the past that are just too good. In-house stuff pisses me off – I’m writing a childrens series and am collaborating with a Canadian artist (blogger friend) and then I read that publishers don’t like you to have your own illustrator – they want to use their own in-house illustrators – blah and boring!!!!! But no way am I using an in-house illustrator on those stories – I’ll self publish if necessary.

    1. Stick to your guns Gabrielle with your book because your creative vision, as the writer is the only valid vision. I think it’s wonderful that not only do you have your own illustrator, but she is from CANADA! Whoo hoo 🙂 The need for a publisher to provide the illustrator is based on control and of course this is a constant in a writer’s life, to do a tug of war with those who hold the purse strings. Once you make it, you can more or less call the shots. The classics are nearly all I’ve read for the last few years, with the exception of a few writers who impress the hell out of me like Alice Sebold and Anne Marie MacDonald.

  2. Dare I say it, Val? There weren’t as many simpletons as there are now days, and there was a more “literary” and learned group of people. I guess their pluses and minuses to have/not have this predicament.

    1. LOL Tel, yes we are apparently experiencing a deluge of simpletons lately. Of course, as writers we could approach this with an optimists zeal and say their cultural and intellectual deficits are blank slates on which to compose our works of art. 🙂

  3. I agree with a lot if what you say but some of the writers you mentioned have books that are heavily thoughtful versus being plot driven. That being said the publishing industry is a mess!

    1. Hi Jessie, I agree with you to a degree about at least three writers on my list. The difference between those on my list and those on the shelves now, is that they had the skill to utilized that thoughtfulness as vehicle to move the story along through the evolution of the personality/mind of the character. Now, that the thoughtfulness you mention isn’t even literate in many cases and if looked at comparatively along side, oh, let say, Plath’s Bell Jar, many modern novels could be seen as sloppy overwriting to cover a weak plot. Eventually this overwriting, masquerading as thoughtful and lyrical prose, becomes the story. A lot of readers are disgusted with buying over hyped novels that are clearly uninspired and confusing monologues leading nowhere. When I read any of the authors I’ve mentioned, as well as those not mentioned, I know it will make sense, be grammatically correct and in the end I will have met some amazing characters and experienced a bona fide, honest to god story. Novel writing is a complex business that can be likened to a boat moving across the sea from one shore to another. The boat is the plot, the characters are the passengers and each has an interconnecting job to do to ensure the boat keeps moving from where it began the journey to where it ends the journey. I’ve done this a number of times and it isn’t for the faint hearted, now that’s a fact. As always Jessie honey, you give a balanced view and I love your visits because they inspire thinking and dialogue. 🙂 hugs

  4. Well Bryan, I took a look at Passages. Yep, another dry academic with nothing to say writing a convoluted story incorporating every Sci Fi/Fantasy gimmick going. How very opportunistic of he and his publisher. Over seven hundred pages of crap. Over writer, over talker par excellence. I watched the interview he has up on Amazon and when I started falling asleep I left. You please me immensely that you could do no more than fifty pages HUGS It is true that book stores are dying and the reason is the greed. East of Eden is brilliant, one of my favourites but it would stand a snow balls’ chance in hell if it was sent to an agent now. How seriously fucked up is that? Steinbeck would be mortified and would probably write a book about it that would also be ignored. Twain’s autobiography has me drooling in anticipation. He and Hemingway are without a doubt, my greatest influences and you can be sure he will tear someone a new asshole. 😉

    1. I will try B and thanks for reading my aggravation. 🙂 Wait until they get a load of Wilson Park 😉 Oh yeah, you just know that one is getting itself all dressed up to sashay in front of some agents. Thank someone’s god for that project, it made me what I am today. hahahahaa

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