I was on my way back from the car wash when somebody on NPR touted the Bukowski exhibit at the Huntington Library/Gardens. Buk (as he liked to say then added that it rhymed with puke) is gone now but his recorded voice lives on and in the snippet NPR played, he said that his poetry looked good because “everybody else was so damn bad.”
I had to read a handful of YAs recently (some old, some new), and they were pretty damn bad. Generic and weirdly corporate with predictable arcs and the kind of quirky characters that made me want to breathe into a paper bag.
My problem was not so much the assembly-line feel but I know that some of them took years to write. Years. Rhymes w/ tears. Which is the part I don’t understand. Why can’t run-of-the-mill fiction (which, I admit, meets a need just as Gap clothes fill a need) be written fast. Why can’t it frankly be from-the-mill. At least one a year. Make twelve or fifteen thousand bucks and write another one. Stop pretending that the atelier isn’t just a factory. Put on some coveralls and just go to work.
I think I’ll lie down now.