Is There An Echo In Here?
A review of a review of reviews
I've often complained about the proliferation of
literacy. This is supposedly a positive thing; if all the Johnnies
can read, all the Johnnies will get better jobs, and the world will
be a better place, right? ENHH!! <<<Insert Game-Show Buzzer
Noise Here>>> We're sorry, but that is not the correct
The availability of desktop publishing has enabled
anyone who has a computer and the necessary software to feel like
a writer. Like us, for instance. This seems to have the unfortunate
effect of diluting the median quality of all available print material.
These days when you pick up a book, it has a far better chance of
being crappy than it did even twenty years ago. It's just too darn
easy to get published. The term "Vanity Press" has been
rendered meaningless. This general downward spiral of culture is
taken to a new level by B.R. Myers in a recent Atlantic
Monthly web article, "A Reader's Manifesto - An attack
on the growing pretentiousness of American literary prose".
In this long-winded (about 13,000 words) pretentious critique of
contemporary literature, Myers praises popular writers like Stephen
King all the while desperately trying not to sound as pretentious
as the authors he derides. He then proceeds to slam some respected
names, using lengthy excerpts to make his points. He even apologizes
for the length of one of the excerpts. He really should apologize
for the length of the piece in general, since his editor hasn't.
We're not really here to criticise B.R. Myers, though.
We just found his piece funny, even if we couldn't finish it because
of its fragmented prose and its sorry attempt at common-ness. What
really concerns us when it comes to literature is the proliferation
of mediocrity, the waste of paper, and the demise of the owner-operated
book store. Mostly, we just love the irony of the fact that we're
criticizing literacy on a web site (the ultimate Vanity Press),
an idea probably best summed up by Bruce
Sterling when he said: "Most of the Internet will be banal
because people are banal".
Banality is kind of a fetish for us. Just visit our
boards or the "Diablog"
to see what we mean. We hope to build an amusing but otherwise useless
collection of information here at Echopraxia.org
--- We hope you'll visit again, and again, and maybe contribute
to the mass of text already cluttering servers everywhere...
of The Week:
Arrow , by Martin Amis, is way too cleverly
contemporary for B.R. Myers, but well worth
pulling off the shelf again.
of The Month
Who could say it better
than Gore Vidal, in The New York Review
"Of all tasks, describing the contents
of a book is the most difficult and in the
case of a marvelous invention like Invisible
Cities , perfectly