Originally Posted by jonglover
My name is Jonathan Glover.
Hmm...as for McSweeney's, I tend to ignore the movement it's associated with. The writing is amazing, and in my mind that's timeless in itself. It's not as if it's thematically consistent, unless you count the Icelandic issue (has little to do with the prose) and the comics issue. I never really understood the McSweeney's hate, just assumed it was cynical backlash, as what the quarterly is supposed to represent to various sects and the dearth of great and varied writing that comes out of the mag seems to me like it has to be totally unrelated. Unless McSweeney's represents some all-encompassing modernist abyss. If the best writers on the planet are constantly found canoodling with McSweeney's (Chabon, Vonnegut, Murakami, Boyle, Updike, mainstream intelli-comic extraordinaire Neil Gaiman) , I don't see how that could be a bad thing.
First of all, Jon, let me say that I have no idea why I went with the first four letters of your user name, rather than the much more obvious first three. At least I didn't ask who Jong was, and why you were so fond of him. My capacity for such idiocy is endless.
I liked McSweeney's, but eventually grew very frustrated with it. There are some real diamonds there, but they're buried among the same tedious coal in every issue, it seems to me. After posting my earlier response, I visited the site, to see if I was being too hard on it, but it seemed like it hadn't changed very much since I last visited a year or two ago. I don't know what it could do to please me; it just seems like it has become something of a perpetual motion machine, producing more of the same simply because that's what it does. Its attitude has become its prison. I'd love to read its better, emotionally compelling works, but I don't want to dig through the snark/too-familiar cleverness to get to them.
As for "Moby-Dick," your comments don't offend me at all, as I hope my critiques won't you. It isn't for everyone, and I think it takes a certain mindset to really enjoy it. Personally, I find it a great ride, and some passages, particularly Ahab's speeches, almost demand to be read (shouted) aloud. I love how it defies form, convention, even common sense, and how it manages to be about everything, all at once. It's like it all came tumbling from Melville's mouth in a single mad breath. Quite the accomplishment for a book that tops out at more than 700 pages in most editions.
Upon your elaboration, I can better understand where you were coming from with your initial reply, and I can appreciate the sentiments. Modern fiction is over underrepresented in such lists, I'll agree; but I think that's a function, at least in part, of the McSweeney syndrome mentioned earlier. It takes effort to sort the wheat from the chaff. With the classics, some of that work has been done for the reader. I'll certainly have to check out some of your recommendations that I haven't yet read, such as "Here They Come."