Just pointers to two things that I wrote, which are not unrelated.
The first is a piece about the Hunger Games books, the first of which came out from Scholastic last fall. There was a lot of buzz about them, and I picked the first one up … and then put it down again. It was all too grim and earnest and dystopic. And frankly it was a little girly.
Then — because a thousand people shrieked at me about how awesome it was — I picked up The Hunger Games again. And I fell down the rabbit hole. I think it was around about the part where they dumped the heroine into a huge arena with 23 other kids and a heap of weapons and supplies, and they started killing each other.
Which reminds me. The other piece is in — surprise! — the Wall Street Journal. It’s something I’ve been noodling with for about 6 months, off and on. Basically it’s an argument about the future of the novel, to wit: In the past we’ve always expected literary innovation to come from the avant-garde, and to be all difficult and experimental and obscure. Like Modernism was. I make the argument that the most aesthetically radical stuff that’s going on in fiction right now is in fact the really narrative, plotty, user-friendly stuff. The nerdy stuff. Susanna Clarke, Michael Chabon, Kelly Link, Neil Gaiman, Neal Stephenson, Richard Price, etc. The literary revolution isn’t coming from above — and really, since when have revolutions ever come from above anyway? It’s coming from below.
Yeah, I know, it gets kinda lit-critty. But if I was going to say, really frankly and straightforwardly, what the important thing is that’s going on with fiction right now, this would be it.
p.s. now I’m going to London for a week, for vacation. I know it seems like I just went on vacation. But that was an illusion.