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You've met these two words before. You know what Contemporary means, and what Fiction is. Have you met the two words together, walking arm-in-arm, along the boulevard? And when they introduced themselves, did they just say their names; or did you infer a relationship there, a shared meaning that implied more?

For comparison, consider Modern Art. Suppose we walk into a friend's studio, and she just finished a painting. So we know it's Modern, and it's Art. Looking at it, we see something in a Renaissance style, or perhaps a velvet Elvis. In either case we know instantly, it isn't Modern Art.

I'll ask again: What is Contemporary Fiction? What do those two words, joined together, mean to you? When in doubt, ask the internet. Aha. Contemporary Fiction means:

A fictional book (events, settings, characters etc. described are not real) set in contemporary times (modern times)
What a paltry definition! There's scant meaning here, and no beauty. This definition does not resonate at all. No doubt about it, I'm throwing this definition out, back into the electric sea I fished it from.

Ugh. I still feel that clammy, feeble definition, flapping in my hand, gasping for breath. I pity the puny creature. May it swim the etherial seas, nibbling up more meaning, until it grows into something considerable. We'll fish for it again in a couple of pages, when it has more flesh on its bones.

Forget the fish for now. We're safe here, on solid ground. Breathe deeply; inhale the pine, the orange blossom, tendering natural bliss. Look at the forest all around us, stretching off into eternity. A soothing symphony for the eyes: pea green, tea green, sap green, sea green; moss, mint, myrtle, laurel, lime; apple, ivy, shamrock, sage, juniper; jade, emerald, viridian, harlequin... We discern more shades of green than any other color. These trees around us, and carpeting the valley below, they are all the prose that ever was.

What makes prose great? The question, like this forest, is too large to grasp. What makes a novel great? I spend a lot of time here, alone, wandering these woods. I've been pondering that very question. I have about twenty answers, but only three I'm sure of. A great novel needs at least three excellences: Plot, Characters and Style.

Style is the most fluid of these three, the hardest to define. Each tree we see here is the style of an author. Pick a tree, any tree. They all start from the same place. The fundaments of style are the roots, sucking up the water of clarity and the minerals of meaning. At ground level, Style is what Strunk & White teach: how to write in a clear and orderly fashion, so you can get your meaning across. Some authors radiate this. Orwell, Austen and Hemingway are never obscure, and never half-empty.

Style can grow much higher. Look at those redwoods, scraping at the belly of the sky: Joyce, Rushdie, Wallace and Woolf. Up in the canopy we marvel at the profusion, all the different fruits and flowers there. Even the leaves look distinct, from tree to tree. A myriad of shapes, so very many shades of green.

Every ambitious author wants to grow their own tree, a tree so fresh and fruitful that you and I, and many other wanderers, will come throughout the centuries to admire and enjoy the particular style they planted here. What gives a tree such unique beauty that it thrives for centuries? Harold Bloom has wandered and pondered these paths more than I have. In The Western Canon he responds to this question:

I have tried to confront greatness directly: to ask what makes the author and the works canonical. The answer, more often than not, has turned out to be strangeness, a mode of originality that either cannot be assimilated, or that so assimilates us that we cease to see it as strange...
     When you read a canonical work for the first time you encounter a stranger, an uncanny startlement rather than a fulfillment of expectations. Read freshly, all that The Divine Comedy, Paradise Lost, Faust Part Two, Hadji Murad, Peer Gynt, Ulysses and Canto general have in common is their uncanniness, their ability to make you feel strange at home.
Bloom is talking about the redwoods here. Not every tree can be that tall, nor should it. These behemoths are thrilling, and show us new vistas - but they wear us out, too. "Uncanny startlement" is an uncomfortable place to live. Still, it's hard to be an exceptional author without finding an original voice, and without at least reaching towards the bold azure sublime.

Is that always so, I wonder. What about Jane Austen? She has a skillful narrative voice, and an exquisite moral sensitivity, but she never sets my imagination on fire. However, she may be one of those Bloom mentions, "that so assimilates us that we cease to see it as strange." She does sound a bit like many other Romance novelists. The difference is, it was strange when she wrote it, for Austen invented the genre.

Now we're ready to fish again. If anyone has a considerable answer for our hook, it's bookgirl. Let's see what she had to say when she started this Contemporary Fiction Views series:

...subscribing to The New Yorker. This was during Mr. Shawn's last years as editor, and his tenure introduced me to a completely different world. Subscribing has been my lifeline to the greater world of ideas out there beyond my door, as I've never lived in a big city.

The fiction of that era was a magical introduction to contemporary literature. Cheever, Updike, Munro, Trevor -- they whetted my appetite for exploring worlds not my own. Over time, stories such as Alice Munro's The Albanian Virgin and Carried Away awakened my belief in the power of fiction to put me in someone else's experience. Annie Proulx's Brokeback Mountain remains one of the strongest reading experiences of my life, and I'll be forever grateful to The New Yorker for publishing it. That final image of the two coats on one hanger made me gasp out loud, then bawl my head off. What love. What loss. What power...

That did it. I was hooked. And what a joy it has been to be addicted, because otherwise I would not have discovered:

Don DeLillo and the magnificent Underworld (especially that glorious opening sequence at the game where the Shot Heard Round the World was hit),

the heartache and love in Larry Watson's Montana, 1948, Kent Haruf's Plainsong, Per Petterson's work and Alice McDermott's Charming Billy,

the sheer beauty in Michael Cunningham's The Hours and Martin Booth's The Industry of Souls,

the exuberance of Jonathan Lethem's Motherless Brooklyn and Zadie Smith's White Teeth,

the darting can-we-believe-the-narrator play of Kazuo Ishiguro,

the multiple ways to tell a story in Margaret Atwood's Alias Grace and The Blind Assassin,

the resilence in Louise Erdrich's The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse,

the fables in novels by Colson Whitehead and Richard Flanagan,

the skewering social commentary in Timothy Taylor's Stanley Park,

the longing for home in Bo Caldwell's The Distant Land of My Father,

the big messiness of Salman Rushdie's stories run amuck,

the unknown made known and combined with the familiar in the work of Diana Abu-Jaber and Jhumpa Lahiri,

the quest for the real in Peter Carey's novels,

the quirkiness of Hilary Mantel and,

above all for me, the magic of Haruki Murakami. Oh the stories that sweet soul weaves. Just read his work. Any of it. All of it. I'm taking my time with his latest, 1Q84, simply because I want it to wash over me and become absorbed instead of inhaled.  

Contemporary literary fiction may draw the scorn of those who do not see its treasures. But it's a genre that extends, reworks and plays with its boundaries even as it delves into the depths of the human heart and the scope of what people are capable of dreaming, destroying, grieving and creating.

Oh! I see what bookgirl did there. Did you catch that? We've been swindled. It's like she promised us fruit loops, and then all she has is grape nuts. I came in here, like you, because I saw 'Contemporary Fiction' on the marquee, and I was curious. After we've paid admission, we're milling about inside, and now bookgirl is selling us 'Contemporary Literary Fiction.'

We mistrust Literature, because we've heard it's nutritious. To be fair, bookgirl does make it sound appetizing, too. Her definition has more meaning, beauty and resonance than that guppy we had to throw back in the sea. Now we have a fish worth considering.

Look in bookgirl's quote, at those 14 single lines on 21 different authors of Contemporary Fiction. They are a kind of sonnet, a kaleidoscope of qualities, reflecting the myriad possibilities of the genre. Now, from her last paragraph, let's pluck out one chord that resonates: Contemporary Fiction is " a genre that extends, reworks and plays with its boundaries".

You could say that these authors are literary. Or you could say that they each share a certain ambition. They don't want to follow familiar formulas, and tell the same old stories again. Each of these authors is working out a style of their own, so that they can tell us something fresh.

Contemporary Fiction is not only set in modern times, it is alive right now. It lives, as William James said of the present moment, in a "perfect effervescence of newness". These budding shoots, few of them will make it to their heaven, the canon. But it is wonderful to feel their vitality, and to see how hungrily they reach up.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar and (15+ / 0-)

    Readers & Book Lovers Series Schedule

    DAY TIME (EST/EDT) Series Name Editor(s)
    SUN 6:00 PM Young
    Reader's Pavilion
    The Book Bear
    Sun 9:30 PM SciFi/Fantasy
    Book Club
    Bi-Monthly Sun Midnight Reading
    don mikulecky
    MON 8:00 PM Monday
    Murder Mystery
    Susan from 29
    Mon 11:00 PM My
    Favorite Books/Authors
    edrie, MichiganChet
    alternate Tuesdays 8:00 AM LGBT
    Texdude50, Dave in Northridge
    Tue 8:00 PM Contemporary
    Fiction Views
    Brecht, bookgirl
    WED 7:30 AM WAYR? plf515
    Wed 8:00 PM Bookflurries
    THU 8:00 PM Write On! SensibleShoes
    Thu (first each month) 11:00 AM Monthly
    Thu (third each month) 11:00 PM Audiobooks
    FRI 8:00 AM Books
    That Changed My Life
    Diana in NoVa
    SAT (fourth each month) 11:00 AM Windy City
    Chitown Kev
    Sat 4:00 PM Daily
    Kos Political Book Club
    Freshly Squeezed Cynic
    Sat 9:00 PM Books
    So Bad They're Good

    "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

    by Brecht on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 04:50:34 PM PST

    •  What about Indigo Kalliope? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      On Tuesdays,
      at 4 PM Central time,
      5 PM Eastern time,
      I've started scheduling
      the Indigo Kalliope diaries.

      Are they not to be listed in this list?

      •  Why should the schedule include you when you don't (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        include the schedule in your diaries?

        I'm teasing, bigjacbigjacbigjac. But, once you have the schedule, it's easy to include it in your tip jars, just by posting a comment to your diary before you publish it.

        Susan from 29 made the schedule. She was feeling poorly on Monday - hopefully she's alright now. She has it stored in a "do not publish" diary in the queue. But I have been unable to open that diary. So I sent Susan a message, and asked her to update the schedule to include my time and authorship of this here series (until bookgirl comes back). Then, when I couldn't get to it, I asked her to email me a copy.

        So, you should send Susan from 29 a message, and wait patiently, in case she still feels poorly.

        Then, as a blog editor of R&BLers, you should be able to copy the schedule from the diary in the queue; or perhaps you'll have the same trouble there that I do.

        "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

        by Brecht on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 01:26:07 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Nobody asked me to do it. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Of course,
          it's a good idea,
          since it puts my little weekly rant
          into perspective,
          shows readers where the poets fit in.

          I can just re-write the whole thing,
          maybe not with walls around the text,
          but do poets like walls around text?

          Thanks for the lesson
          in posting R & B lers diaries.

  •  Bloom's "strangeness" is an aesthetic can be (8+ / 0-)

    adapted to many genres of art- can, in fact, bring about the questions "what is art?"

    I like the term contemporary fiction. Its very general-ness suggests an openness, and willingness to include that its serious cousin literary fiction tends to downplay.

  •  I have read a few of the books (8+ / 0-)

    bookgirl mentioned.

    One book I did like was Russo's Bridge of Sighs.  

    My review of the book at Bookflurries is here:

    I called it a rich book:

    Rich books are creamy and full of content with layers of meaning and memorable characters.  They are authentic and reward us for careful reading.  They cause us to think and grow and to go looking for more information.  They teach us that we are not alone in the world community.  They enhance our spirits.  They help us to know who we are.  Following a gifted author through a luxuriant story is one of the wonders of life.
    I think that a good contemporary literary fiction story makes me ask questions as I said in my review:
    Bridge of Sighs is a book that has an important story to tell about small towns and how people lived after WW II to the present.  It is my story and yet it is not.  Some very important aspects do run parallel with my own life and I have to acknowledge them.  I have to nod my head in recognition of what society was like in a small town and a small school.  

    I have to look at the doors I opened and those that were locked.  I have to weigh the doors that I did not choose and ask if I was wise or not?  I have to ask myself if I am proud of the choices or not?  I have to consider the narrator’s domino theory.  

    If I had not had the same parents or relatives, then what?  If we had not been terribly poor in money, (though rich in other things such as twenty acres and a pond, library books, piano lessons, and good school teachers) how would I have chosen to live my life?  Of course, there are no crystal balls.  And I ask myself, even if I had been able to look into a crystal ball, would I have changed anything?  And the book asks me to think..."Would you really be a different person or not?"

    Thank you for a good diary!

    Join us at Bookflurries-Bookchat on Wednesday nights 8:00 PM EST

    by cfk on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 05:30:57 PM PST

    •  You say "It is my story and yet it is not." (6+ / 0-)

      So Russo's book (to carry on from my diary last week about Cultivating Conversation) did more than resonate with you. It sounds like you entered into a conversation with it while you were reading it. Sometimes your life experience was singing in harmony with Russo, sometimes in counterpoint.

      That's a pretty high level of personal meaning to find in a book. I did enjoy, and agree with your fine recipe:

      A recipe for a rich book cake with four layers of meaning.

      1 cup of courageous author who is willing to share deeply
      4 cups of enriched thought
      2 cups of chopped suspense
      1 cup of curiosity and questions
      1 stick of intense soul searching
      6 TBS of humor
      4 TBS of hard truth
      3-8 characters of assorted flavors
      lightly sprinkle in a number of problems
      add 1 tsp of foreshadowing
      stir in a solution and a just ending

      bake in the reader’s willing participation until a toothpick comes out clean

      And thank you, cfk, for a good comment!

      "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

      by Brecht on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 05:48:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  "Strangeness" is a term he borrowed, sort of, (10+ / 0-)

    from the Russian formalists: estrangement, or ostranenie.  Shklovsky was trying to figure out what made Tolstoy's work tick, especially when talking about mundane things, and he hit on this idea that great authors use the transformative power of art to render the mundane "strange" in a way that's both jarring, but also paradoxically familiar (because, in a weird sort of way, that very strangeness allows us to refocus our attention on the experience, making it more immediate.)  I don't have my copy handy, but wikipedia pulls one of the better quotes from Shklovsky:

    The purpose of art is to impart the sensation of things as they are perceived and not as they are known. The technique of art is to make objects ‘unfamiliar’, to make forms difficult, to increase the difficulty and length of perception because the process of perception is an aesthetic end in itself and must be prolonged.
    In other words, estrangement rips us out of the automatic, which is where everyday life becomes (at best) cliché in art, and forces us to acknowledge and appreciate the experience aesthetically.  This is the difference between a hack writer's description of a flower, which is all springtime and dew and unicorns, and Tolstoy's flower, the contemplation of which launches Hadji Murat.

    Incidentally, major props to Bloom for citing Hadji Murat as his Tolstoy example.  We were just talking about that book recently... I think its his best work, bar none, but it's never quite found an audience in the West.  It's overshadowed a bit by the enormity of AK and W&P, but I think it's a more mature work in every way.

    Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

    by pico on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 05:43:42 PM PST

    •  Your comment adds value to my own thinking on art, (6+ / 0-)

      because Bloom's "strangeness" is sticking with me, and I've been chewing on greatness and canonicity for a year now, and will continue to. Thank you very much.

      It strikes me that Shklovsky is absolutely right. At least for an intellectual like me, who generally lives among attenuated abstractions rather than the things themselves. Probably most adults, with such organized control of our attention, glance at the surfaces of things that seem mundane, and require a shock or strangeness to fix our gaze, to see deeper.

      It's hard for me to consider this crucial idea of being ripped "out of the automatic" as expressed in the exact words of your comment. It resonates so strongly with overlapping ideas I acquired from Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. Perhaps that author derived her ideas from Shklovsky.

      So, everything in your comment rings true, but I have a lot of chewing to do.

      I have Hadji Murat at home, but haven't read it yet. We (readers in general) do have a tendency to read the huge recognized masterworks, which is seldom the best place to start on a great author. Why would you dive into the swirling depths of Ulysses without at least paddling through Dubliners first?

      "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

      by Brecht on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 06:09:54 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  "render the mundane 'strange'..." (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pico, Brecht, Limelite

      I like that.  Sort of like trying to look at our own familiar world as though we were anthropologists, and realizing how odd it really is.

    •  The Ability to "See for the First Time" (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Brecht, pico

      in art and literature may be a way to think of the shared quality of writers and artists to convey their original vision.  Or, to see in a new way.

      I would make the argument that "estrangement" rips out the automatic and inserts the fresh into our way of seeing, thinking, and feeling.  I am a more direct and brutal thinker.

      Readers & Book Lovers Pull up a chair! You're never too old to be a Meta Groupie

      by Limelite on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 02:54:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Agreed, although I think he's taking it (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Limelite, Monsieur Georges, Brecht

        a step further by arguing it's not just newness per se, but a category of aesthetic appreciation.  Another way to think about it is that he's shifting the attention, metaphorically, from prose to poetry: away from the thing-as-such to the thing-as-object-of-appreciation, if that makes sense.  Ceci n'est plus qu'une pipe.

        I don't think that's exclusive of what you're saying, given that the impact of newness seems to provoke a similar reaction.  I think he's just trying to identify what it is, apart from novelty, that gets us to that point.

        Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

        by pico on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 05:31:33 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  "shifting the attention... from prose to poetry" (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Yes. It seems like the 19th Century was the conquest of realism, and in the 20th the more ambitious writers were freeing us from it, or at least leavening it with the freshness and subjectivity of poetry.

          So I ordered Theory of Prose. And after that, I think I'll stop reading essays on books for awhile. I really enjoy them, but...

          They keep talking about books I haven't read yet. So maybe I should focus on reading (and re-reading) the great books themselves, for a time.

          Also, when I read essays that clarify what books mean, I fear that I'm just borrowing someone else's epiphanies. I need to read and write and think for myself. Or at least discern the difference between my own insights, and those I borrow.

          I do like Shklovsky. Like Auerbach or Said, it seems like he's thinking for himself, he's not trapped by seductive systems.

          "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

          by Brecht on Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 04:26:56 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Food for thought: looking through bookgirl's CFVs, (4+ / 0-)

    I find this:

    Sometimes it takes only one element to move a novel from mainstream fiction to contemporary literary fiction. For Eleanor Brown's The Weird Sisters, that one element is her ability to use plural first person so effectively and movingly in a story of three sisters who find their way home.

    The Weird Sisters has a distinctive voice that is entirely captivating. While each of the three sisters, who share billing as the main characters, is the focus in an overseeing narration, the words used are not third person omniscient or the standard first person, but the plural "we" and "us". This is the story of all three sisters, not a trio of stories. This literary device is one of the most charming features used to make certain each of the sisters takes her rightful place within the novel.

    "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

    by Brecht on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 08:41:32 PM PST

  •  Gotta run. I'll check in tomorrow, but... (3+ / 0-)

    Library's closing

    "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

    by Brecht on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 08:42:05 PM PST

  •  I know how to define art! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    WB Reeves, 88kathy, Brecht

    Art is anything meant
    to make another human feel something,
    usually making others feel
    what the artist is feeling,
    that's usually how it works.

    I'm an old widower,
    I can make you feel like shit,
    or feel good,
    with words on the screen.

  •  Strangeness (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brecht, Limelite
    I have tried to confront greatness directly: to ask what makes the author and the works canonical. The answer, more often than not, has turned out to be strangeness, a mode of originality that either cannot be assimilated, or that so assimilates us that we cease to see it as strange...
    That's it in a nutshell.  That's what I'm looking for.  I think that's what Catch-22 had that turned on the reading light in my brain all those years ago.

    And hooray for the grape nuts.  You (or I, at least) can only stand so many froot loops.

    Thanks, Brecht!

  •  'Defamiliarization' (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Monsieur Georges, Brecht

    explained here --

    appears to be a literary theory with some relationship to Dadaism.

    so at best 'art as defined by one school of thought'

    •  Thanks for the link, CroneWit. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Limelite, Monsieur Georges

      You say "at best 'art as defined by one school of thought.'"

      There are many aims of art, and they each serve their own purpose. My aunt likes to rewatch TV shows she knows by heart already, which is about the opposite of 'Defamiliarization' - but it makes her happy.

      The "strangeness" Bloom talks about, and the newness that bookgirl and I look for in Contemporary Fiction, is, I think, something more than one school of thought on art. It is something that any artist ambitious to make fresh art with original style is looking for, and (again this is just my opinion) it is something we find in the work of all great artists.

      "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

      by Brecht on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 02:02:48 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I was thinking about romance writing the other day (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Monsieur Georges, Brecht, Limelite

    Well actually when I was watching my seasonal Nutcracker.  Romance writing isn't about relationships.  It is ballet.  Men don't dance around on pointy toes and hold you over their heads while you spin around looking like a swan.  That is why romance readers demand certain constructs.  It is about the romance ballet not the relationship.

    Some books keep you up till 4am.  That's what I consider contemporary fiction. Pacing.  Old time books are pools with a beach entrance.  Contemporary fiction start with a water slide and go into white water from there.  Maybe?

    Hey, GOP - Get In, Sit Down, Shut up, & Hang On!

    by 88kathy on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 07:57:22 AM PST

    •  "start with a water slide and go into white water" (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      88kathy, Monsieur Georges

      I agree, in that Contemporary Fiction is often looking for excitement, and always for aliveness and some level of shock: new perspectives, insights, feelings, wordplay...

      If it keeps you up to 4am, it's got something in it which is the opposite of tiring, and tired.

      Romance writing in its pure form is ballet, and many like it pure. There are plenty of authors who don't write Romance, but add some of that ballet to their writing. Even in Austen, where the ending is always intended to be apt and happy, there is this argument going on, between the ideal morality which we want to prevail, and the awkward contingencies of a real world where good people suffer and scoundrels sometimes get away with it.

      Life is rough. I think we all keep a bit of ballet in our hearts.

      "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

      by Brecht on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 02:12:17 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The Gods Must Be Crazy (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Monsieur Georges, Brecht

    The computer belched and I can rec and rate again.

    Wonderful essay -- love your extended metaphors that cover the land and sea of the literary landscape.  Yes!  That was a helluva an intro bookgirl gave us.  I knew I was in for the ride.

    I think of contemporary fiction as the work by living writers who have something to say about the here and now and that it becomes literary contemporary fiction when it offers me a lasting insight on the human condition in a way that appeals to an/or my aesthetic.

    William James was right.

    A strictly personal definition: Contemporary literature manages to combine the pleasure of a cold brut champagne and the finish of an excellent Bordeaux that combine in a divine way to suit one's taste.

    Almost all the authors in bookgirl's list do it for me.

    Readers & Book Lovers Pull up a chair! You're never too old to be a Meta Groupie

    by Limelite on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 02:44:03 PM PST

    •  Respect the gods. Just to be on the safe side. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Limelite, Monsieur Georges

      You probably did some karmically significant act, and Ganesh smiled. Besides being the god of luck, success and wisdom, he is the remover of obstacles.

      Have you read American Gods, Gaiman's deepest book?

      I'm glad you enjoyed my metaphors. I had fun finding 19 shades of green. And I enjoy exploring and giving props to bookgirl. She does have good taste.

      Your metaphor of Bourdeaux Champagne is fine, but I'd rather have a bottle of it.

      I like that a book only becomes literary when it appeals to your aesthetic. My own hubris is greater. When I am reading a book, even if it's trash, it becomes a good book for the duration, with all the insight and sensitivity I bring to my reading of it.

      But also the "lasting insight  on the human condition" goes into literary.  "Lasting" is a strong criterion - if it lives on in our mind, if we are changed by reading it, a book certainly did something right.

      "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

      by Brecht on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 05:28:56 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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