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Rod Liddle's recent Sunday Times article, Has fiction lost its power?, has been widely circulated and commented upon. Indeed, Scott Esposito's always engaging Conversational Reading referred to the article just yesterday. Like Fausto, one of Scott's commenters, I found a number of the book recommendations in Liddle's piece rather unconvincing, and I find the bloke himself (after pro-war absurdities) quite odious. Like Scott, I'm suspicious that Liddle is just a sour elitist but, unlike Scott, I find myself agreeing with the basic, well-worn argument of the piece. Scott says, "When I can read 70 novels a year -- many of them recently published -- and find a majority of them very intelligent, edgy, and interesting, then all arguments for the so-called decline of fiction are going to feel inherently flawed." I'm astonished. I read as omnivorously as most, yet I find nearly all the new novels I read to be very, very meagre fare indeed. Whilst on a continuing lookout for new fiction that is "intelligent, edgy, and interesting" I mostly find mediocrity or much worse.

Readers Comments

  1. The problem with Esposito's idea is that there are no periods of history at all where one would find seventy works of serious merit being published in one year. Maybe his idea of merit differs from mine (intelligent and edgy sounds like faint praise to me). I'd settle for one or two heavyweight works a year but I tend to typically be disappointed on that score.

    Not that I'm exactly thrilled to have to (at least partially) agree with Liddle either.

  2. Whilst I think we would all like to see more interesting novels being published, I can't help feeling that Liddle isn't actually very well read. He seems to be loitering in the middle of the road and wondering why everything is so, well, mediocre...

  3. Is Liddle really pro-war? Since when?

  4. Here's what Liddle considers a shame:

    "Natanz seems an agreeable little town, perched nearly 5,000ft up in the majestic mountains of central Iran, full of dusty relics of Alexander the Great and black-clad peasants scurrying hither and thither. It is a shame, then, that we may soon be obliged to bomb it to smithereens. An even bigger shame, though, if we don’t."

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/newspaper/0,,176-2157918,00.html

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