Don’t Give up on the Novel!

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October 17, 2012 by chriszumtobel

The next book I plan on reading is The Human Stain, by Philip Roth, and this morning I was looking for YouTube videos on the guy as I’ve only read one other book of his and only know a little about him.  One of the first videos I came across is the one below of Paul Auster arguing against Roth’s claims that the novel is dead.

Because just this morning, I finished The Man in the Dark (not a very good book other than one passage on the importance of inanimate objects in movies; Although, I recommend reading The New York TrilogyOracle Night or Book of Illusions) and Auster is actually the author who got me interested in writing in the first place, I was excited about the video.

I was proud of Auster for standing up to the literary giant of Roth, basically saying that he respects him but disagrees.  It’s hard not to agree with Auster, just because you don’t even want to begin to imagine a Fahrenheit 451-esque world without literature.  And it really does seem impossible that people would quit creating in the way that Roth imagines: to all gradually succumb to the lack of demand for novels and quit producing them entirely.

But I don’t think that is what Roth really means, a world without books at all is a long shot, but a world without books with substance could very well be a reality.  Before we know it, the only books on the shelves may be Fifty Shades of Gray and the latest Danielle Steel novel…

I believe this is what Roth is speaking of, he is worried that people will quit thinking.  They will quit reading for the thoughts that it provokes, and they will quit writing with the goal of provoking thought.

I think Roth is just challenging us.  Well, I accept.  Let’s accept the challenge and keep reading books with substance, keep writing books with substance.  Let’s keep the novel alive.

Are you with me?

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