July 3, 2010

I want — I really want — to respect (even like) the current fiction that we’re told is of high literary quality. But those in the know just aren’t helping me at all. My heart leaps up when I hear of a writer who is turning out treasurable sentences. Then I feel like Charlie Brown in his encounters with Lucy and the football when I read the promises of a review like this, and then come down to earth with a thud when reading the sample of supposed greatness.

To me this reads like one of those entries into parody contests, such the annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest:

Hollows from the fingers of Aibagawa Orito are indented in her ripe gift, and he places his own fingers there, holds the fruit under his nostrils, inhales its gritty sweetness, and rolls its rotundity along his cracked lips. I regret my confession, he thinks, yet what choice did I have? He eclipses the sun with her persimmon: the planet glows orange like a jack-o’-lantern. There is a dusting around its woody black cap and stem. Lacking a knife or spoon, he takes a nip of waxy skin between his incisors and tears; juice oozes from the gash; he licks the sweet smears and sucks out a dribbling gobbet of threaded flesh and holds it gently, gently, against the roof of his mouth, where the pulp disintegrates into fermented jasmine, oily cinnamon, perfumed melon, melted damson . . . and in its heart he finds 10 or 15 flat stones, brown as Asian eyes and the same shape. The sun is gone now, cicadas fall silent, lilacs and turquoises dim and thin into grays and darker grays.

Here’s my high-fallutin’ critical aperçu on that one:


I will only add that I LOLed (to use a technical term) at “the planet glows orange like a jack-o’-lantern.” Heaven help us if this is what our masters consider even decent writing.

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