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Deconstructing the Dead, Fat Lady

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The song is over. The deed is done. Time to move on. Not even the grotesque, bloody red beaked turkey vultures have anything left to pick at from the corpse of deconstructionism. Leave it to the maggots already.

An entire generation has been given an offer they can’t understand in literary criticism and literature courses. White, male European/North American authors BAD (or at least the topics they wrote about). Multicultural, preferably female, writers GOOD. Shove the once sacred canon of literature up into the place where the sun doesn’t shine. Now what?

The answer is simple if you want to make a living as a novelist—adapt. Adaptation. A great film starring Nicolas Cage and written by Charlie Kaufman. Sell out. Hollywood is watching and waiting and so are agents. As the saying goes, “Writing is like prostitution. At first, you do it for fun. Then you do it for a few friends. Finally, you do it for money.”

I recently interviewed Mario Almonte about his new novel, Theresa Manning, and we both bemoaned the end of what some would call classic literary style. He said his work was a conscious attempt to fight back against fictional sensationalism and current trends. What nerve! And to make it even worse, he had to self publish! Despicable! Obviously, the man has no talent–or does he? Well, of course he does and that’s the sad part of it all. He’s miraculously riding a dead horse into the sunset and nobody could care less.

It reminds me of a poem by Edwin Arlington Robinson (another despicable, dead white guy), “The Man Against the Sky.” The first stanza reads:

Between me and the sunset, like a dome
Against the glory of a world on fire,
Now burned a sudden hill,
Bleak, round, and high, by flame-lit height made

With nothing on it for the flame to kill
Save one who moved and was alone up there
To loom before the chaos and the glare
As if he were the last god going home
Unto his last desire.

So torch the corpse, baby. Dance around the fire. Sing nihilistic dirges until your voices give out. Or write a novel about a bisexual white preacher, serial rapist that is undone by a strong woman of color with courtroom scenes and threats of honor killings. She doesn’t have to be fat but large breasts are mandatory.

As Czeslaw Milosz once told me personally, “It must be difficult to be a writer in America.” No matter. He’s dead, too. I can see him and the others from the cheap balcony seats in the opera house.

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About John H. Byk

  • Alisha

    I am not satisfied by this book review. That book is wonderfull.