Feb 23, 2007, 11:09 PM
Post #42 of 213
Interesting discussion. I have no problem with Joyce and Faulkner being my key classics to attack first. For more arbitrary reasons, they were already at the top of my own list, along with Flannery O'Connor, perhaps because I'm intrigued by southern gothic (Faulkner & O'Connor), and fascinated by anyone described along with my first love, Nabokov, as a "prose stylist" (Faulkner & Joyce).
Re: [jaywalke] Preparing for an MFA
[In reply to]
After reading B.R. Myers' attack on modern "literary fiction" in A Reader's Manifesto: An Attack on the Growing Pretentiousness in American Literary Prose, I'm a bit skeptical of trying to write after reading only contemporary fiction. I do read contemporary stuff, but I base my decisions more on instinct than on what is hot in the literary scene. So this ends up including some literary darlings like Martin Amis and Michael Chabon, but it also includes nonfiction writers (Susan Orlean, AA Gill), genre writers (Peter Abrahams, Elmore Leonard), and whatever looks good at the bookstore or library or recommended in a magazine. I consider that my candy. But now I'm trying to balance candy reading with more vegetables: the classics that, at the least, are a good source of fibre, but hopefully are even quite tasty once you get used to the flavor. I'd be ashamed to make my living as a writer without having read some of the more well-known classics, and without continuing to read more of them throughout the years. I'm wary of only reading contemporary fiction, because although it may teach you what current literature looks like, you can't really understand where it's going unless you understand where it's coming from.