We’re about to kick off a new annual tradition here at LitKicks: a review of the year’s big stories in literature.
These types of summaries are popular for other creative forms, and in fact I can effortlessly rattle off several other yearly summaries, just off the top of my head. The year’s big stories in music? Well, there’s the emergence of crafty, instrumentally skilled singles bands like Modest Mouse, Franz Ferdinand and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and there’s the continuing overflow of pleasurable, crunk-toned hiphop from the likes of Jadakiss, Fat Joe, Ja Rule, Ludacris, Fabolous and Lil Jon. The big story in film? Easy — the huge success of two powerful, polemical and politically-charged films, Mel Gibson’s ‘Passion’ and Michael Moore’s ‘Farenheit 911’, each designed to preach to their own choirs (as well as to a tiny quadrant, including myself, that liked both).
In this spirit, I would like to announce the LitKicks Big Stories in Literature for 2004. Here goes!
* sound of crickets chirping *
If anybody needs proof that literature is in a lame state, this exercise is proof. I can’t think of a damn thing that happened this year. I read a couple of good new books, but none that represent significant trends. I’d nominate Russell Simmons’ excellent Def Poetry Jam TV show, but this premiered a couple of years before. I really can’t get too excited about books by elder statesmen like Philip Roth and John Updike or by the appointment of yet another U.S. Poet Laureate to go to all the proper functions and appear respectable.
What the hell is wrong with literature, that I can’t think of a single newsworthy thing that happened this entire year? I spend more time thinking about literature than either music or film, so it’s a pretty stunning fact that I can easily find interesting things to say about both of these forms and nothing about the one I care most about. I really can’t say why today’s established fiction and poetry scenes feel so crippled and irrelevant these days, but I do hope that sites like LitKicks can help fix the situation. And in that spirit, I’ve just decided that the big story in 2004 is the publication of the LitKicks book Action Poetry, and the restructuring of this site to emphasize more focused discussions on specific topics. That’s my answer and I’m sticking with it.
I’d like to hear what you think were the big stories in literature in 2004. And happy new year everybody!