September 16th, 2003

Dark Tower

(no subject)

It's been announced that Stephen King is to receive a medal for distinguished contribution to American letters from the National Book Foundation. Naturally, not everyone is happy:
"He is a man who writes what used to be called penny dreadfuls," said Harold Bloom, the Yale professor, critic and self-appointed custodian of the literary canon. "That they could believe that there is any literary value there or any aesthetic accomplishment or signs of an inventive human intelligence is simply a testimony to their own idiocy."
I, of course, disagree. It's just another step (along with his oft-mentioned winning of the 1995 O. Henry Award, whatever that is) towards greater acceptance by, well, someone. The literary people.

I'm not in a position to compare one thing with another. I happen to think Stephen King has done some enormously powerful and intelligent storytelling in his time, but I can't really comment on the competition. The last multi-award winning novel I read was Peter Carey's The True History of the Kelly Gang, which was very good (I still prefer Oscar and Lucinda). Before that... um.

So can I produce an answer to Harold Bloom? No, because I don't speak the same language (and I quite like Penny Dreadfuls, at least in theory -- the actual examples have their problems for a modern audience). But that's alright. It's damn fine that it's happening, because it will also trickle through to other things like school lists, and help dissolve genre boundaries further, and that is good enough to me.