Wednesday, April 14, 2004

And in new news for the reading mind...

Maisonneuve is a Canadian literary magazine, a la Harper's or The New Yorker, or so they tell me on their "about" page. It has a subtitle of "Eclectic Curiosity," which endears it to me right off, and it's published in Montreal, which gains it all kinds of home court advantage. Finally, it's not afraid to take a poke at Sven Birkerts. And that's not something just any literary magazine can say. I myself haven't really come down on one side of Sven or the other. I read The Gutenberg Elegies back in library school, when I was doing a project on hypertext and the future of fiction. He's clearly smart and highly literate, and he sometimes said things that struck me with all the force of the unstated obvious--things that made me go, Yeah, right, of course--why didn't I ever think of it like that before?. He also sometimes bores me half to tears. So I don't know. I feel a similar glee in reading this take-down as I did in reading a roast of J.M. Coetzee in the South African journal Scrutiny 2 a while back. I love Coetzee. I'd just finished Waiting for the Barbarians, and it half killed me, in the best possible way. But there's still some guilty pleasure in reading a dedicated undermining of a major figure. It's not exactly schadenfreude; it's more just curiosity. What does this person have to say about the writing? Why do they think it's bad? Is their argument good? Do I agree with parts of it? It's like conversation: generally more interesting if everybody doesn't say the same thing.


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