And so it's come to this. The country which produced Mark Twain and Edith Wharton, along with names like Hawthorne, Poe, Melville and Pynchon now has Jenny McCarthy as its literary representative. Writers used to be taken seriously. Then again, writers used to be serious. Even the wild Hunter Thompson could provide thought provoking analysis on a variety of subjects when appearing on late night talk shows.
Today, however, we have Ms. McCarthy appearing on CNN's prime time lineup to promote a “comedic” anti-Catholic book. Of course, literary discussion should be open to all points of view, but Ms. McCarthy ain't exactly Jonathan Swift. Perhaps I'm wrong, but I don't find comparing Christ to Justin Bieber the definition of high comedy.
Still, it would be unfair to blame Ms. McCarthy for the fact that writers no longer hold a place of honor at the American table. Truth be told, many writers of artful fiction don't seem to want to be embraced by the mainstream of our country. Go to many literary websites and you will find writing which is so obscure, so completely frustrating, that you will feel the author is giving you the finger.
Challenging writing is terrific. Pretentious writing is just annoying.
The question, then, is if there's anyone out there brave enough to write material that's serious while being at least potentially accessible. Let's hope so. Otherwise, we're left with the likes of a middle aged Playboy centerfold who takes her writing about as seriously as she takes herself. That or some obscure “genius” who doesn't want anyone to understand what he or she puts down on paper.