Proulx, McCarthy, DeLillo…

and Paul Auster all fall under the scalpel in this essay by B.R. Myers in The Atlantic of July-August 2001. It’s an old essay, but I stumbled upon it while browsing literary essays after reading a more recent take-down of Johnathan Safran Foer and others by Melvin Jules Bukiet at The American Scholar.

3 Responses to Proulx, McCarthy, DeLillo…

  1. Cliff Burns says:

    I re-read the Myers piece and while I disagree with much of what the critic said with regards to the works of McCarthy, Auster and DeLillo, I did concur with the sentiment that books today are read very quickly and when readers actually slow down and read carefully and critically, the cracks and flaws in a writer’s aesthetic and style begin to show. I do not, however, find that DeLillo, Auster and McCarthy fall into this category because I DO read them slowly, lingering over the beauty of their sentences, the structure, marveling at their ability to use voice to such great effect. They are writer’s writers and for that reason are to be treasured for standing far above the crowd and miles beyond the literary pablum that passes for contemporary fiction…

  2. Rustum says:

    Cliff, I haven’t read Proulx, but have had my suspicions. I’ve read some McCarthy, some DeLillo and some Auster. The McCarthy I have read I liked tremendously, as well as the DeLillo. Not so the Auster. Myers’s essay, though, confirms an unease for me about them, and confirms my suspicions of Proulx. I pick up books in bookstores and if the first page does not grab me, stylistically and content-wise, I don’t buy it, as with Proulx.

    The point also is not whether we read slowly or quickly, but, rather, whether these books want to be read slowly or quickly. Myers’s point is that they want to be read quickly so that we do not notice ‘the cracks and flaws’. I.e. they have literary pretensions that do not bear much scrutiny, as you also admit.

  3. […] here is some linkage to a recent takedown of “Brooklyn Books of Wonder” by Melvin Jules Bukiet. This “Wonderbread” […]

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