In Lorin Stein’s view, best-sellers such as Mary Gaitskill’s may stand the test of time “not because a critic says they’re good, but because . There’s very little context in the book—it’s happening in some slightly simplified world. ”: Grossman admits that, with story now king for readers, the answer is no.
Wood agrees that that’s the state of things, but finds it sad and preposterous.
The bomb site is a ‘madhouse’ ”) and passages that were “bombastic, overwritten, marred by baffling turns of phrase.” “Reading perhaps the most prestigious literary journal in America.
“It coats everything in a cozy patina of ‘literary’ gentility.” Who cares that Kakutani or King gave it the stamp of approval: “Nowadays, even lead to the long-debated questions: What makes a work literature, and who gets to decide? The history of literature is filled with books now considered masterpieces that were thought hackwork in their time.
How Fiction Works storyteller—where, of course, ‘serious’ does not mean the exclusion of the comic, or the joyful, or the exciting. “A critic like Wood—whom I admire probably as much or more than any other book reviewer working—doesn’t have the critical language you need to praise a book like The kinds of things that the book does particularly well don’t lend themselves to literary analysis.…
Tartt’s novel is not a serious one—it tells a fantastical, even ridiculous tale, based on absurd and improbable premises.”For Wood’s crowd the measuring stick in determining what’s serious literature is a sense of reality, of authenticity—and it’s possible even in books that are experimental. Her language is careless in places, and there’s a fairy-tale quality to the book. Every novel dispenses with something, and Tartt dispenses with that.” As for Francine Prose’s query “Doesn’t anyone care how a book is written anymore?
Take Dickens, the greatest novelist of the Victorian period, whose mantle writers from John Irving to Tom Wolfe to Tartt have sought to inherit. He has added nothing to our understanding of human character.” Many future offenses against humanity would follow:“It isn’t worth any adult reader’s attention,” That said, for all the snooty pans of books now considered classics, there have been, conversely, plenty of authors who were once revered as literary miracles and are now relegated to the trash heap.
Henry James called Dickens the greatest of superficial novelists … Sir Walter Scott, for example, was considered perhaps the pre-eminent writer of his time.
It makes you wince.” He added that on any given page out of Wolfe he could “read a sentence that would make me gag.” Wolfe later struck back. “ panicked [Irving] the same way it frightened John Updike and Norman. Panicked them.” Updike and Mailer were “two old piles of bones.” As for Irving, “Irving is a great admirer of Dickens. “Tartt has managed to do something that almost never happens: she has created a serious novel—whether you like the book or not, it is not frivolous, or tacky or cynical—and made it into a cultural phenomenon. Lev Grossman, the book reviewer for recalls, “You couldn’t classify it easily into high literature or genre fiction.“Tartt’s novel, like all novels that purport to be serious, should of course pass before the bar of all the serious critics, and receive all the judgments that they bring forth,” says Wieseltier, who has dipped into the book enough to put it in the serious category.“But if a serious book really catches on, it may be less important that its strictly literary quality is not as great as one might have hoped and more important that it’s touched a nerve, that it is driven by some deep human subject and some true human need.” Ultimately, he thinks, the success of is a step in the right direction.Michiko Kakutani, the chief book reviewer for 31 years (and herself a Pulitzer winner, in criticism), called it “a glorious Dickensian novel, a novel that pulls together all [Tartt’s] remarkable storytelling talents into a rapturous, symphonic whole. “Tartt’s consoling message, blared in the book’s final pages, is that what will survive of us is great art, but this seems an anxious compensation, as if Tartt were unconsciously acknowledging that the 2013 ‘Goldfinch’ might not survive the way the 1654 ‘Goldfinch’ has.” Days after she was awarded the Pulitzer, Wood told novelist and critic Francine Prose wrote that, for all the frequent descriptions of the book as “Dickensian,” Tartt demonstrates little of Dickens’s remarkable powers of description and graceful language.She culled both what she considered lazy clichés (“Theo’s high school friend Tom’s cigarette is ‘only the tip of the iceberg.’ …