Thursday, January 29, 2009

Gee, The WSJ Sure Is Cold

This seemed like a pretty gratuitous shot at a guy who just killed himself four months ago:

"Way back in 1997, the novelist David Foster Wallace publicly gloated over the senescence and impending demise of John Updike, Norman Mailer and Philip Roth -- "the Great Male Narcissists who've dominated postwar fiction," pre-eminent chroniclers of "probably the single most self-absorbed generation since Louis XIV." Panning Updike's latest novel, "Toward the End of Time," Wallace castigated the grand old man as a "Champion Literary Phallocrat" and asked whether this could finally be the end for the magnificent narcissists.

Mr. Wallace was speaking too soon, as the subsequent decade was to prove. He himself, a suicide in 2008, would predecease both Messrs. Roth and Updike. Mr. Mailer died in 2007, hailed as a national treasure despite his lousy last novel. Mr. Roth continues to turn out excellent work at regular intervals and has been accorded the unique honor of having his collected works published by the Library of America during his lifetime..."

(Kay Slay Voice): Damn! Seriously though, their argument is that Wallace was wrong in panning Updike because before Updike got around to dying, Wallace hung himself? Classy! And really stupid.

4 comments:

brandon said...

Especially dopey of a comment because Wallace's review while harsh, isn't this all-encompassing pan at all...

tray said...

No, it wasn't at all. I generally sympathize with the WSJ's politics, and Joe Morgenstern's actually a pretty solid film critic as far as big newspaper film critics go, but their ventures into cultural commentary are always epic failures. A few weeks back they ran this awful Lee Siegel Richard Yates-bash that conflated the book with the awful movie made of it, and of course back in the summer there was that "The Dark Knight proves Bush's terrorism policies right" op-ed. But this was exceptionally mean.

brandon said...

tray-
Yeah, don't even get me started on all the awful misreadings of Yates' work now that he's someone people talk about enough to misread....

tray said...

Yeah, I'm wildly pro-suburbia, pro-conformity, pro-etc., so naturally I have my problems with Yates, but he's way more nuanced than about 99% of his suburbs-bashing heirs, and that seems to be being missed.