Preserving Our Intellectual Literary Integrity
There are so many killer, underlinable lines in this essay by Mark de Silva—author of Square Wave, which is out February 2016—in his new essay/manifesto/screed at 3:AM Magazine, 'Distant Visions: Putdownable Prose and the State of the Art-Novel.'
The entire piece should be required reading for someone trying to get a handle on contemporary American literature.
"Perhaps these shifts are making us lose not just our taste for visionary fiction, but our belief in its very possibility: that novels, or anything, might have the sorts of transformative powers I’ve ascribed to them. In that case, though, preserving our intellectual integrity would mean that we stop paying lip service to a notion of artistry in literature that no longer carries conviction. This would still leave us free to give ourselves over to the pleasures of leisure fiction (and journalism too), but without the bad faith.
"There is another choice, of course. Rather than annul the art contract, we could try recommitting to it. That would mean expecting our best writers to push themselves to visionary heights, and expecting ourselves, as readers, to make the climb, not always easy, to meet them there. In the offing, perhaps, that profound experience of art, for writer and reader both."
just received a phenomenal review
from Publishers Weekly
, who states bluntly that "The novel of ideas is alive and well in de Silva’s high-minded debut, in which the pursuit of art, the exercise of power, and climate control are strangely entwined... Set against the backdrop of a crumbling America, this novel functions as a thriller where the confusions and obsessions of students are freighted with the dark reality they begin to uncover. De Silva isn’t shy about his intelligence, and he shouldn’t be; Square Wave
is an intellectual tussle many readers will be happy to grapple with."