Ok, I've put up with a lot this summer with this reading list. I've dealt with:
-A bunch of Modernist poets who all seem to claim the same things and work in the same way, but who all seem to disagree with each other. As far as I can tell, the impetus to "make it new" involves writing incomprehensible drek that only a few people can understand, and even then only if you're a walking annotation. Still don't see why they disagree so much. (Though it was refreshing to see William Carlos Williams openly ripping into Pound and Eliot, as opposed to the passive-agressive junk most of the others indulged in.)
-Every minority in America feeling entitled to write fiction about a character trapped between two worlds. Yes, your plight is tragic, all you Hispanics, Jews, African-Americans, Native Americans, Eastern European Immigrants, etc. But for the love of God, have some consciousness of the works around you, and find a new trope to use for your pain.
-Three entries of Toni Morrison. Yes, she's good. But she doesn't deserve three novels on my list. Pick one or two, folks, and go with it.
-Eudora Welty. 'Nuff said.
But today was a new low. Today, I read The Magician of Lublin, by Isaac "Look at Me, I'm Jewish" Singer. Now, I may seem to bash the Hebrews a bit much in this blog, but I don't actively dislike their art. Henry Roth, quite cool. Saul Bellow, I'm growing to like. Bernard Malamund's The Assistant was refreshingly good. But Mr. Singer has no place on this list of mine. His text, The Magician, is not an American text. Yes, he was an American immigrant. But the text is about Poland. About Polish people in the 1800s. There are no Americans in it. No American themes. Very little mention of America at all, except as a far off place. And it was written in Yiddish, and translated to English by other people. I'm willing to put up with novels in Europe, because the ones on the list largely deal with American exiles or tourists. And I can put up with novels written by immigrants, dealing with American themes (Pale Fire, written by Nabokov, is perhaps my new favorite on the list). But there's no justification for The Magician of Freakin Lublin in any way, shape, or form. And it's not even a good novel. So I'm lodging a protest. Let it be noted. And then I'm finishing the book, because one of my committee members has written an article on it, so it'll most likely be on the test.
But on the plus side, it's still better than Nightwood.