I’ve already seen a couple thousand posts in response to this Wall Street Journal article by Lev Grossman. There’s a video here that kind of further expounds on his theory behind modern literature, which evidently can actually include novels that have plots. Who knew?
Since there’s so much else to read, I’ll try to sum up my comments in a single sentence: Grossman’s article appears to be written by someone who has been trapped by TIME magazine’s definition of “literature” for so long he didn’t realize that there books (I mean, any books) were actually written after 1930, until he read Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell: A Novel.
If you want more:
From me: I read another interview with Grossman where he says how he grew up obsessed with fantasy novels/series like Narnia, Lord of the Rings, etc. It’s odd, then, to think that he could be so close-minded when it comes to the idea of “good books” having good plots. I’ve always been more interested in Science Fiction myself, and while I’ll admit that I haven’t read many of the science fiction works from around the time of Narnia and Lord of the Rings, I have read quite a bit of modern scifi. While certainly not all of it can even approach what might be called “literary” I can’t help but think of Snow Crash (Bantam Spectra Book), The Diamond Age: Or, a Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer (Bantam Spectra Book), Cryptonomicon. Yes, I realize they’re all by Neal Stephenson, but all of them are clearly plot-driven, but also written in a style that I would consider worthy of literary criticism.
Of course, the whole article could really just be a Michael Arrington-like Controversy On Purpose designed to get people to say Lev Grossman as many times as possible across the internet. If that’s the case, Bravo! Great Success!