“Dancing Barefoot”

Over on Salon this weekend, J. Robbert Lennon tries to argue that young writers shouldn’t read contemporary fiction because it’s the worst.  Um, what?

This has to be one of the most absurd pieces of devil’s advocacy I’ve ever seen.  Lennon makes a few valid points, I suppose, but essentially his argument is that there’s too much bad contemporary literary fiction out there to make it worth trying to keep up with and most beginning writers will just wind up being mediocre anyway.  So basically, because most people in the world are not brilliant geniuses destined to be my best friends, I should just stay in bed.  Yep, makes perfect sense.

Although actually, analogies aside, I wouldn’t mind staying in bed . . .

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2 Comments

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2 responses to ““Dancing Barefoot”

  1. I read the piece and didn’t find it as objectionable as you do. There is plenty of great material to read without reading the contemporary fiction he was referring to. Also I didn’t get that he said not to read contemporary fiction at all…just not to immerse oneself in it.

    • hourofgold

      Obviously I’m oversimplifying Lennon’s point a bit here, but he seems to be intentionally missing Don Chaon’s original point, which is that *just* reading the classics doesn’t prepare you for the climate of contemporary literature. To say that contemporary lit isn’t worth reading widely of is snobbish and clearly untrue, particularly since Lennon is playing very fast and loose with what “contemporary literature” even means.

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