The Death of Fiction

Many traditional and well respected lit mags are getting the yank as school’s look to cut budgets.

Ted Genoways, the editor of the Virginia Quartetly Review, (which is a journal of literature and discussion) is lamenting the fall of literature magazines with the “Death of Fiction?

I arrived at some of Genoway’s points independently in the last few months. And I’ve been meditating on them. Two of them are:

Indeed, most American writers seem to have forgotten how to write about big issues—as if giving two shits about the world has gotten crushed under the boot sole of postmodernism.

In the midst of a war on two fronts, there has been hardly a ripple in American fiction. With the exception of a few execrable screeds—like Nicholson Baker’s Checkpoint (which revealed just how completely postmodernism has painted itself into a corner)—novelists and story writers alike have largely ignored the wars. Even our poets, the supposed deliverers of “news that stays news,” have been comparatively mum; Brian Turner is the only major poet to yet emerge from Iraq.

When I first started analyzing literature seriously my junior year in high school I read Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, a shocking novel about soldiers in the Vietnam War. I have yet to come upon anything based on this almost decade old war. Movies have come out, but not any novels that I’m aware of.

I’d like to incorporate that into my fiction.

My other thought, which Genoway brought up, was a thought about my own writing,

I’m saying that writers need to venture out from under the protective wing of academia, to put themselves and their work on the line. Stop being so damned dainty and polite. Treat writing like your lifeblood instead of your livelihood. And for Christ’s sake, write something we might want to read.

I often wonder if I’d even want to read my own fiction. I know many people, like my friends, would rather not, fiction just doesn’t interest them, regardless how good the story might be. But if I think about it, there have been a few times when my non-reading friends ask for a novel.

Everyone loves a good story. That’ll never die.


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