East Coast – East Coast literary rap war

Tom Hopkins sends word that the December issue of Harper’s contains a number of letters responding to Ben Marcus’ “Why Experimental Fiction Threatens to Destroy Publishing, Jonathan Franzen, and Life as We Know It: A Correction.” Here’s Sherman Alexie’s response.

Does Ben Marcus, educated at NYU and Brown, employed by Columbia, and published by Anchor, Vintage, and Harper’s, truly believe that he is an excluded experimentalist? Does he honestly believe that Jonathan Franzen, educated at Swarthmore, once employed by Harvard, and published by FSG and Harper’s, is somehow more elitist? Or is Franzen the populist? Or is a populist elitist? Is there really much difference between Marcus and Franzen? This East Coast – East Coast Literary Rap War reminds me of the Far Side cartoon in which a lone penguin, suffering in a crowd of millions of exactly similar penguins, rises and shouts, “I just have to be me!”

Sherman Alexie
Seattle, Wash.

And here, once again, is Emma Garman’s irreverent summary of Marcus’ essay.


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