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Julian Gough
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No problem, Daniel. Here at Gough Literary Industries, we like to provide a full-function essay service with 24-hour online technical support. Plus, I like arguing about books.
Toggle Commented May 16, 2007 on Undervaluing Comedy at The Reading Experience
Whoah! Before this horse gallops much further in this particular direction, could I step (metacritically) out of the shadows and explain what I meant? (Of course, Richard may well be correct when he says, maybe I don't know what mean...) In fact, I largely agree with Daniel. I love Barthelme, I love Pynchon. I think that American metafiction has been where a lot of the Hot! Comic! Action! has been this past half century. But in my essay, I'm trying to make a book-length argument in 4,500 words, and I simply didn't have time or space to explore US metafiction. My broad argument was not that nobody is writing good comic fiction (that'd be nuts): It was that the general tendency of the culture leans against treating serious stuff through comedy. And I wrote the article for Prospect magazine, in London, and for a largely London readership. My examples were thus largely drawn from the right hand side of the Atlantic. Some of the lines that I had to cut from the finished essay, due to lack of space, might have made this clearer. Here’s an example of a lost paragraph which in fact mentions Pynchon: “So it is likely that the great novels which effortlessly cut the Gordian knot I have described have not only been written already, but published already, reviewed and dismissed already. Certainly they have not won the Booker Prize. Nor are they ever likely to. The Pulitzer Prize, consistently picking the wrong novel throughout the sixties, seventies and eighties, once almost got it right, in 1974. The novel committee unanimously chose Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon (undoubtedly the greatest American novel of that year). But the overall Pulitzer committee refused to award the prize to Pynchon for such a tasteless book. So no award was given that year.” I don’t think we disagree. My argument was a little overcompressed in the edit, but to clarify it here: I agree with Daniel when he says: ‘It's the rejection of this liberating anarchy by "professional" Creative Writing that has stultified "literary prose," not the acceptance of a "private language" too influenced by postmodernism.’ But I’m glad you enjoyed so much of the article, and I’m delighted you and your readers have engaged with it so full-bloodedly.
Toggle Commented May 15, 2007 on Undervaluing Comedy at The Reading Experience