Peck on Ian McEwan v. Ali Smith

In today’s Tournament of Books match, Dale Peck “refuse[s] to advance” either Ian McEwan’s Saturday or Ali Smith’s The Accidental, “even by the flip of a coin.”

The truth is, contemporary fiction’s nothing more than an enabler of certain bourgeois illusions. At least McEwan seems to understand this; Smith doesn’t even pretend to a dialectic.

But speaking more generally — hell, you’re all just waiting for the pull quote anyway — books like these make me want to join al Qaeda. It’s not so much the books themselves that make me wish our way of life would come to an end sooner rather than later, but, rather, the fact that seemingly intelligent and educated people find reasons to praise them.

People mistook Hatchet Jobs as an attack on contemporary writers, which suggests that I failed to make myself clear on at least one point. It takes two to tango. Writers wouldn’t be producing this twaddle if you weren’t reading it.


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