Novels like these 'make me want to join Al Qaeda'

Dale Peck, the hatchet man of contemporary fiction, was asked by The Morning News to judge a round of the 2006 Tournament of Books. They knew who they were asking. They had to. He has a book of essays called Hatchet Jobs for crying out loud.

In a cranky, iconoclastic blogpost, Peck actually refuses to pick a winner: "In Hatchet Jobs, I referred to fiction as the engine of capitalism. After reading Ian McEwan’s Saturday and Ali Smith’s The Accidental, I think I was being generous, at least as regards novels being written now."

Calling contemporary fiction "nothing more than an enabler of certain bourgeois illusions," Peck launches into a tirade progressives will recognize as a lofty echo of contemporary media critique:

until writers realize the social compact is spiritual and species suicide, a pseudoethical pressure valve that allows Western society to pretend it’s examining its troubled conscience when all it’s doing is assuaging the guilt we feel for exploiting the rest of the world—and destroying it in the process—then the literary novel will remain little more than a series of embarrassing, irrelevant mea culpas.
Ouch. (TMN)

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