The Christian Science Monitor may have the best article about Stephen King winning the National Book Award yet. It’s not Bloom sputtering all over himself, and it’s not the publishing industry bending over backwards for the man who made them all rich. It’s just an evenheaded look at where King stands in the canon and why this decision may have been made. They also bring up a point no one else did — Oprah won that same award just a few years back. There was some controversy, but nothing compared to the Stephen King award.
Lynn Coady is nearly moved to violence by King’s diatribe on literary snobs, Shirley Hazzard’s reaction to it, and the Harold Bloom essay that set King off in the first place:
[King] seemed unable to stop himself — perhaps the issue was a point of pride — asserting that the gap between “the so-called popular fiction and the so-called literary fiction” must be closed. To which a bemused Joe Average can only reply: Dude, you’re a billionaire.
It is not for you to gripe about egg-headed and arbitrary distinctions between high and low art. Accept your award with humble aplomb and resume laughing your way to the bank.
It’s disheartening to see a rags-to-riches kind of guy like King now, — when his achievement is being publicly validated — stoop to flick mud back at someone like professional windbag Harold Bloom, whose idea of being down with the kids is to rail publicly against the teaching of Aphra Behn in university English departments.
Shaking his jowls in The Los Angeles Times, Bloom quaked: “That [the National Book Foundation] could believe that there is any literary value [in King’s body of work] or any aesthetic accomplishment or signs of an inventive human intelligence is simply a testimony to their own idiocy.”
Shirley Hazzard, the winner of this year’s fiction prize for her novel The Great Fire, sniffed that she hasn’t had time to read any of King’s books because she’s too busy working her way through Shakespeare and Joseph Conrad.
Don’t you want to smack them all?