In the October Harper’s, Ben Marcus offers a lengthy state-of-the-novel essay, subtly titled Why Experimental Fiction Threatens to Destroy Publishing, Jonathan Franzen, and Life as We Know It: A Correction, in which he spends 13 pages beating up Jonathan Franzen–snubber of Oprah and William Gaddis alike–and the middlebrow fiction establishment he represents.
I paged through this essay at the newsstand (a Lost Illusions scene). My conclusion… Who has time for all this contemporary fiction wrangling? There’s such a backlog, so many other things to do. The best I feel I can hope for is to grab some occasional choice bit by chance, like Gilead.