Like many, Ted Genoways
grieves for the retreat of fiction from American magazines. Unlike many, he pins some of the blame on today's writers. Genoways commands writers to change their outlook, abandoning "navel-gazing" and making their prose less "damned dainty and polite." He also has advice for universities--writers' "de facto patrons"--many of which have begun ditching their literary reviews. If they embrace the opportunity to fill holes left by collapsing media, a few "bold university
presidents" could "save American literature, reshape journalism, and
maybe even rescue public discourse from the cable shout shows and the
Even then, however, writers will have to shape up:
I'm not calling for more pundits ...
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.
Why are today's writers "so damned dainty and polite"? Perhaps more importantly: what's the cure?
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