One of Tyler Cowen's commenters, Marcos Jazzan, asks:
The quality of fiction seems to be decreasing relative to the quality of non-fiction, or am I just biased against active fiction writers vs. dead ones?
Cowen agrees and wonders about the causes. One of them is splendid one-off downloadable essays, such as Cowen's "The Great Stagnation". As deep-dive magazines struggle online, the mini-ebook awaits its moment. But just because non-fiction has more potential these days, that doesn't mean fiction has declined in quality. Another commenter gets it right:
I think you have to really dig to get past the crap, now more than ever, simply because so much is being published. Zadie Smith's novels were brilliant; Helen DeWitt put out a masterpiece for her first novel; Haruki Murakami continues to put out great work. I also think that as you read more, you need something unique or unusual. You can't read just another damn bildungsroman like the hundred you've read before. You can't read another tale of heartbreak. It makes most novels seem dull (this happened to me about age 25, but I read A LOT). I have to seek out experimental narratives or ordinary narratives about unusual circumstances (Kim Young-Ha does this well in both of the novels of his I've read). I also read a lot of science fiction, because it's at least an exploration of possibilities. But no, I honestly think that fiction is breaching new frontiers and getting better.
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