Saturday, October 7, 2023


Once again literature appears to be taken hostage by gerrymandering. Every year the same question prevails:  Isn't it time for Lapland or Uyghurs to be rewarded? The question is not absurd since good writers can be found everywhere, while they become also hostage to the travails of language and the range of editing.

The Nobels appear to be afraid of the type of Bildungsroman which gave us The Magic Mountain or Catcher in the Rye. Hans Castrop and Holden Caulfield left us derelict. 

It is hopeless and also unfair to attempt ranking contemporary writers. It is worthy nevertheless to retain the impact certain writers have because they appear to be gifted by an exceptional awareness of today's traumas.

Richard Ford is probably America's most extraordinary novelist. His Frank Bascombe odyssey is indeed an epic for this modern age. The final novel Be Mine leaves the soul scared. The simple almost uneventful story of a father's banal trip with his ailing son in America's frightening heartland is gloomy. The observed banality, the frightened compassion, the unspoken emotions lead to a stoic (Augustinian?) acquiescence of the sunset.

The words of Richard Ford are raw like mortar, contemporary like the lightning one finds in shopping malls and crisp like the chips from Lays. Nothing can be more contemporary, closer to T.S. Eliot ? Maybe.

Frank and Paul, father and son, one still there, the other leaving, are taking over from Hans Castrop, who finally met his match.

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