RARA-AVIS: Re: Goodis...

From: jacquesdebierue (jacquesdebierue@yahoo.com)
Date: 28 Feb 2009

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    --- In rara-avis-l@yahoogroups.com, Steve Novak <Cinefrog@...> wrote:

    > Really: Iım VERY curious to understand/investigate...why the
    Goodisesı of
    > the US writing world never ³made² it...are there socio-political
    > reasons...but more importantly: are there economical
    reasons...???...or just
    > simple fate?...
    > I have been told a few times by intellectual/literary Œauthoritiesı from
    > varied backgrounds that it can all be reduced to the influence of the
    > churches/religious entities/establishment....and their power in all the
    > publishing worlds...and their lackeys...i.e. the critics...????

    I don't know of a convincing explanation. Yes, there have been powerful forces wanting to censor, but consider how many great examples of film noir (including by Hammett, Caldwell, Goodis, etc.) were made in the golden era. Consider the kinds of films that Martin Scorsese and yes, Jules Dassin made, almost like documentaries and not even showing the good side of society. So, there is in principle no problem with such films, they were and are made and they are seen by millions of people. Likewise, television series.

    The canonization of books probably follows quite a different path. I think there is evidence that "genre" literature is segregated. The NYT still does it, though Leonard, for example, might be reviewed in the
    "regular" section of the NYRB. Most others go to Marilyn Stasio, who gives a brief review of three or four books, within the cage of mysteries. How do schools and universities pick their canon? They seem to follow the segregation model. For example, they don't put David Goodis and James Sallis with Franz Kafka, as they probably should. After all, Cassidy's Girl is going to feel pretty familiar to the students, and it is as good an example of total insignificance and defeat of the individual as Kafka's.

    There is still the idea of the "great books", that somehow it matters whether one reads the Iliad or not. It doesn't matter. If you read Jim Thompson and not Thackeray, it's fine. If you read Italo Calvino and not Shakespeare, that's fine, too. If you read Cormac McCarthy for dystopias instead of Brave New World, that's fine, people will get a lot out of it. Harold Bloom has had a bad influence on this great book business. This attitude considers learning and course-taking as some sort of badge of honor. It is nothing of the sort. Reading some good books, maybe not that many, and thinking about them a lot, discussing them, that's what it's about. Especially reading a little and thinking a lot. No badge (frankly, thinking of education as a badge is ridiculous).

    To be continued, my fingers are tired... Maybe yawl will get lucky and I'll forget about the whole thing.



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