Disclaimer: I have no business opining on literary criticism. Namely because this job has rendered me barely literate. Also because the piece I'm about to address with you is written by an old colleague — Choire Sicha — discussing the book of someone I also know — Keith Gessen — and the distinctly New York phenomenon dredged up by his book All The Sad Young Literary Men, which is to say, Dudes Who Write: Why Do They Irritate Us So? Today in the Observer Choire wonders why they all suck so much compared to Joan Didion and Marilyn Robinson. He blames their (small) penises; in a response Choire's old subordinate (and my friend; and Keith Gessen's ... oh Jesus, as she says, "Google it") Emily Gould argues that they are simply too attractive; subjected as they are for the first time to the shallow standards and expectations of what I call the American Titocracy. Like Choire and Emily, and the other Observer writer who also today bemoaned — or celebrated; I don't know — our generation's acceptance of its own "cuteness" as manifested in the way we've taken to short skirts and supporting Barack Obama with our wholest of half-formed hearts — I have complicated thoughts.
Here's a decent paragraph from the story about which I would only like to say that these guys still actually do seem to derive some element of self-regard from the girls they get to fuck them, but whatever:
Men, finding that they cannot really get status or security from the ownership of women very often, find their very selves disparaged. Like most of us, they get their status first from consumption, and the way out is to become a maker of consumables; a high-class published author. And they are bewildered, I think, because their bewilderment shows in books that try to understand class and economic conditions even as they are being happily further ensnared by them. Their books read as if this were the first time they'd ever thought of all this.The point is, I don't imagine you really care, correct? There is a small constituency of you guys, sure, who seem to follow the small New York reality show that plays out in the subtext of these blogs and the trend stories written by people we run into at house parties, but you're probably quite aware that to take that any more seriously than you'd take the average episode of The Paper would be a grave fucking mistake. (Actually: I take that back. The Paper celebrates original reporting, the cultivation of curiosity, etc. I'm not sure what we celebrate, but I know none of it is good.)
So, I don't know. I'd probably venture that it is all going the way of this, where we write for your clicks and take pleasure in a few positive customer interactions and the warm feeling of occasionally getting recognized on the street, like I used to when I worked as a barista at Starbucks, and that this isn't about women or men but simply about the shattering of all the old barriers to entry in the content generation business, which might be a good thing but for the fact it all moves so fucking fast, and yeah Anna, I am sorry this post is late, but even half-thoughts take a little time to form when Large Macroeconomic Forces Outside My Control have so accustomed me to react with tiny idiotic slivers of fractions of thoughts, as the Sad Young Men trying so desperately to form not only Whole, but Earth-Shattering Thoughts in between Googling themselves (it's the new "Having it all!" No wonder women are better-resigned to its elusiveness) could probably tell you.
Papa Hemingway! Where Are The Men? [Observer]
Earlier: Doesn't Anyone Write Like A Fucking Chick Anymore?