I picked up the New York Times Book Review this weekend. This is a better issue than most, featuring David Foster Wallace writing about Jorge Luis Borges and Jay McInerney reviewing Jonathan Lethem. A nice break from the Book Review’s trend of giving political and sociological books more coverage than fiction and poetry.
Still, though, my basic reaction when I pick up a new issue of the Book Review remains the same: this is what “they” are saying about today’s literary scene. I can’t say I feel represented by or included in the literary world view represented by the New York Times Book Review. The vision is too proper, too corporate, too triple-filtered.
Then, my daughter is reading the 2004 edition of Dave Eggers’ “Best American Non-Required Reading”. I read the 2003 edition and I had to admit it included some great writing. I have a feeling I’ll like this edition too. I don’t love Dave Eggers as a writer — I get weary after a few pages of pure concentrated irony leavened with moments of occasional sincerity — but I have a lot of respect for him as an editor. I guess I feel somewhat included in the type of lit scene this book represents.
When I go to a live poetry show, either as a participant or an audience member, I usually feel energized by the poets on stage. But poetry readings tend to be frenetic and highly personal gatherings, which disturbs the inner autistic in me, and I often have a good time but leave these places feeling exhausted and drained. I guess I feel represented by the live poetry scene, even when it annoys the hell out of me.
In the end, the only place I really feel I can connect with others who share a vision of what fiction and poetry can mean to an individual and in the world is right here on LitKicks. But that’s just me. I’d like to know what current literary scenes you feel personally connected to, if any.