American Scholar: “To achieve this miracle, certain writers produce Brooklyn Books of Wonder. Take mawkish self-indulgence, add a heavy dollop of creamy nostalgia, season with magic realism, stir in a complacency of faith, and you’ve got wondrousness. The only thing that’s more wondrous than the BBoW narratives themselves is the vanity of the authors who deliver their epistles from Fort Greene with mock-naïve astonishment, as if saying: ‘I can’t really believe I’m writing this. And it’s such an honor that you’re reading it.’ Actually, they’re as vain and mercenary as anyone else, but they mask these less endearing traits under the smiley façade of an illusory Eden they’ve recreated in the low-rise borough across the water from corrupt Manhattan.”
I don’t entirely disagree with Melvin Jules Bukiet, but there are several hysterical statements in this article that I will leave others to respond to.
I’ll just point out that Dave Eggers and the McSweeney’s operation are based in the San Francisco Bay Area, Alice Sebold is also in California, and that Benjamin Kunkel is, as I understand it, based in Manhattan. So while I appreciate some of the sentiments in this article against superficial books, I think that Bukiet is foolish to wag his vitriolic finger to Brooklyn as the source of this apparent “Books of Wonder” epidemic. This is the kind of scummy and atavistic mentality that eventually gets people forcibly removing Japanese people from their neighborhood and placing them in internment camps.
And Bukiet doesn’t know Brooklyn very well if he thinks the hipsters ride the F train. If we’re going to reduce speculation upon the five boroughs to base generalizations, as anyone who actually gets off the island of Manhattan from time to time knows, it’s the L train to Williamsburg where you’ll find the ponytails and goatees.
© 2007, Edward Champion. All rights reserved.