As if the 9/11 victimhood card being played by politicians to start wars based on fixed intelligence and now being used by priapic reactionaries to prop up London as a fait accompli for living in chronic fear* weren’t bad enough, it seems that the Portland Tribune has seen fit to offer yet another ridiculous article about how 9/11 has made it difficult to finish novels. Here’s what novelist Richard Rinaldi has to say:
“And because so much had changed, I was aware that I’d probably lost a novel, but so what? In the scheme of things it didn’t matter. My options were to just throw it away or put it another city. But my agents were leaning on me to include 9/11. Initially I was very reluctant, but I came around and said, ‘All right, I’ll give it a try.’ “
For those who haven’t been watching the calendar, 9/11 was three and a half fucking years ago. In other words, most of the time it takes to finish an undergraduate degree (assuming that you’re on the four year plan).
While certainly 9/11 has changed American life, I’m disheartened by the idea that a novel itself must completely change or drastically alter its content to reflect the jingoism of its time. Particularly when authors are, for the most part, paid a pittance to sweat over a novel that they’ve labored over for many years. The thing that matters is what the author has to say at the time he writes it. Wrapping a novel around the American flag or a sense of victimhood that will date poorly is hypocritical to the nature of art, and I would argue that it’s akin to a total sellout. Do we really need a marketplace saturated with potboilers that represent today’s answers to Peter Bryant’s Red Alert? Further, is a literary effort truly literature if it answers to the dicta of what’s hot with the public? Besides, from a marketing standpoint, this seems anathema to the nature of publishing, given that a book undergoes a two-year production process and attitudes are likely to change.
* — For more on this subject, Ian McEwan has penned an essay for the Guardian on how the London bombings were inevitable.
© 2005, DrMabuse. All rights reserved.