He's a pleasure to read most of the time - Mickey's crankiness, Derb's dyspepsia and a whiff of Amis's so-bad-it's-good prose. Here he is on the strange decline of naughty American literature:
Under Tina Brown's editorship of The New Yorker, our homegrown literati were still capable of producing their own candid, high-toned, hot-pants hoo-ha, from Daphne Merkin's spank-me essay to Alison Rose's elliptical, first-person account of office adulteries (her cubicle was hopping). Now look at the magazine: a dry hole where the pilgrims gather. The latest double issue, its Summer Fiction issue, features a meditation on God and suffering by James Wood and a sextet of brief testimonials on the theme of "Faith & Doubt." "I enjoyed singing carols," contributes novelist Allegra Goodman. "I sat through Shabbat services making up my own stories about Laura Ingalls Wilder to add to the adventures in her books." Sweet Moses, is this what it's come to? If The New Yorker persists in exhibiting spiritual growth, I foresee even further opportunistic expansion of Grade A European smut into our mind-space, which can't be what the Founding Fathers and Gore Vidal intended.
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