For Your Delectation and Delight

I must admit to a certain joy in seeing icongraphic figures hauled down to size.  Let's face it, we aren't in the era of incipient Shakespeares regardless of the adulatory acclaim some garner.

Most overrated contemporary American Writers (Guardian)

Most overrated contemporary American Writers (Huffington Post)

My personal favorite victims--William T. Vollman,  John Ashbery,  and Jonathan Safran Foer.  Oh, and Michael Cunningham whose The Hours must be one of the most highly overrated books of the past decade.

Comments

  1. Ah, yes, Ashbery, whom I consider the Great Satan of American poetry. (Which is not to say that he can't be clever or enticing or funny or otherwise magnetizing on occasion.)

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  2. Dear Dylan,

    They also didn't care for Mary Oliver and Billy Collins, and I can see their point with the latter, sort of. But Ashbery certainly deserves to sit front and center in these ranks.

    shalom,

    Steven

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  3. I'm still shocked at my own persistence in completing Cunningham's book, carried away by the thrill of reading Mrs Dalloway. The Hours was terrible.

    Vollman's not interesting? I've never read him but heard mixed opinions.

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  4. Dear Anthony,

    I have tried to appreciate Vollman, but you must remember that I am a notoriously mood-driven reader and it could be that I've never caught the Vollman mood.

    shalom,

    Steven

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  5. If an author is "overrated," whose responsibility is it? The authors? Nonsense. They're just out there trying to get published. One can point out their faults or weaknesses as writers, but certainly being overrated shouldn't be dumped in their laps.

    Overrating is the fault of critics, commentators, scholars, and most of all, the
    media itself.

    I find it ironic that the media responsible f
    or both "lists" are the most responsible for overrating, and here the media is out there shifting the blame to the authors.

    Instead of posting some adverse comments by a critic or two about writers which imply that the author is somehow at fault for being overrated, we should be getting examples of the nonsense put out by critics which lead to the overrating of authors. I wonder how long I'll have to wait to see that.

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  6. Fred,

    Cogent and persuasive remarks. Thank you for giving us all something to think about.

    I would add a small rejoinder that some authors are responsible in small measure for their own hype and cult of self--and I think that may be part of what the critic writing responds to.

    But, that said, what you note here is undoubtedly true and the predominate strain.

    Thanks again.

    shalom,

    Steven

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  7. Do you think the Guardian would run an article on overrated critics?

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  8. Dear Fred,

    Perhaps not, but perhaps Slate or the Huffington Report would, particularly if it were well-enough written. Why don't you try them out--only by trial will we find the answer and I would be most interested to read an article along those lines. The systematic throne-lowering of Edmund Wilson (among others) would be both a sight to behold and a genuine pleasure.

    shalom,

    Steven

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  9. Steven,

    Unfortunately I'm not qualified to write this type of article since I seldom read critics.

    I'm not even sure how to judge which critics are overrated, any more than I'm qualified to judge writers as being overrated. And, the more I think about the term "overrated," the less sure I know what it means.

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  10. Dear Fred,

    I think we can translate overrated to mean, "A positive assessment of talent, utility, or value with which I disagree." Thus, naturally differing for each I making the judgment.

    shalom,

    Steven

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  11. --I think we can translate overrated to mean, "A positive assessment of talent, utility, or value with which I disagree." Thus, naturally differing for each I making the judgment.--

    Hey, works for me. I like it.

    ReplyDelete

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