Now here’s an end of the year/decade literary debate that’s actually quite interesting, versus the morass of “best of lists”, courtesy of the New York Times. Here’s an excerpt from author David Matthews:
Things I will never, ever read:
The authors who get to stay did something the others did not — they saved me.
The biography of Willem de Kooning. Ditto the 600 pages devoted to Wittgenstein’s life and thought. Malraux’s “The Voices of Silence” will remain mute, its spine un-cracked, the book’s presence meant to imply to anyone perusing my “library” that I’m a man of serious ideas and scholarship.
Sadly, I’m too far along to absorb whatever Bertrand Russell’s history of philosophy has to teach me, so out it goes. For that matter, what with the urgency of global warming and recession and deadly flus, I might as well live in the moment, so anything with the words, “The History of…” in the title is, well, history.
And I can safely remainder to charity the Camille Paglia screeds which seemed so edgy in the late ’80s and early ’90s, when I mistook her combo of misogyny and classicism for refreshing “political incorrectness.”
On to fiction. Delillo’s “Underworld” can go, because a book can be long, or it can be boring, but it shouldn’t be both. Marquez’s “A Hundred Years of Solitude” makes the scrap heap, because it would take precisely that combination of circumstances before I could be bothered to finish it. Bye, bye Jamaica Kincaid — assigned 20 years ago by a comparative lit professor — you will always be homework to me. Soon, my bookshelf is lean. All muscle and bone…
[courtesy of the New York Times]