Found this article in Publishers Weekly and thought it interesting.  The decline in literature magazines, especially university edited magazines, is the subject of discussion.  Apparently people are wringing their hands and lamenting to the heavens about the demise of proper literature.


One pundit blames the rise of all the MFA schools in writing as partial blame.  And I can see where a case could be made for that.  So many writers contemplating about the meaning of Life as they gaze at the lent in their navels.  Read about lent in one navel and you just about read about lent in all navels, haven't you?


What do you think?

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Writers offering their work for free should take note of what open source software developers are doing. You can use their programs for free, but they usually ask for a donation. It's not mandatory, but it does support the developer so more programs can be built.

The same could and should go for writers. Yes, there is a ton of free content out there. But writers need to recognize the value of their product. Plus, people are becoming more accustomed to supporting things they enjoy with donations.

Or we could just beg.
Here's a literary magazine becoming an app for the iPad, iPhone an iPod Touch:

And they've created an even shorter story than flash fiction they're calling the iStory at 150 words.
'iStory?' Gag me with a spoon.

How about 'McStory?' It's the same thing. Highly processed packaged content with little to no nutritional value.
I think the premise is flawed. Nothing is killing fiction writing. There's more fiction being published now, and published in more ways, that at any time in history. God knows there are problems with the book industry, but I don't think any of them come from the fact that good fiction isn't being written. Actually, I think (as far as mysteries and thrillers are concerned, anyway) that we're in a golden age.

As far as I know, the only problem with MFA programs is that they offer a temporary haven to writers who'd probably be better off getting their asses off the campuses and sitting down to write a book
I think it's pretty funny that there is "nothing new under the sun." Petrarch, a scholar in the 12th century was lamenting that there was no decent literature to read and deemed the era "dark" and later the Victorians picked up on that and declared that the middle ages was the "dark ages" because of lack of literature, science, and art with an oppressive Church. (By the way, it wasn't any of those things.)

I suppose in each age there are doomsayers. But there is a lot of competition for people's time these days. Books are just one more thing in the pack.
MFA programs remind me of music schools. There are a LOT more callow youths who love to write/perform than there will ever be jobs for, but ask an 18-25 year-old with the bit between his teeth and he KNOWS he'll be one of the fortunate few. Sure, he knows how hard it will be, and there will be privation involved, but they're abstract concepts to him at that point.

Those concepts become more concrete after graduation, when our fledgling writer/musician has three roommates and is working at Best Buy to subsidize the little bit of income he makes from gigging/publishing. That's fun for a while, too--shared circumstances often are, even when they're depressing to anyone with an objective eye--until life events start to take over. People fall in love, get married, have children. They want a life with more permanence than what they've had, and that requires a more reliable income stream.

To a great extent, music schools and MFA programs exist to create their next generation of instructors, thus perpetuating themselves. This is neither good nor bad, but anyone who thinks getting a degree in either will lead to steady, gainful employment is either naive, delusional, or an ass.

As for the death of literature, it all depends on how you define "literature." I'm inclined to agree with TIm: more books are being published and read than ever before, so there's life in some definition of "literature." As for what some would consider to be the higher forms of the "art," they, too, have gone down music's path. For years "contemporary" classical music has been unconcerned with being listenable by anyone other than the composer's perceived peers; I see much the same issue with post-modern writing. Neither emperor is fully clothed.
Yes, but you do have to hold on to a concept of quality. The big problem is that most writers have replaced that with an aim for a bestseller. That has become the only criterion for success. Writing a surefire bestseller seems to mean anything but literary prose. Though perhaps that isn't always true. Hillary Mantel's WOLF HALL is actually a quality bestseller. :)
I'm probably the wrong person to comment, since I come to this with a pre-existing bias. I spent my undergrad years in an Ivy League writing program taught by a lot of those MFA grads, and suffice to say that my literary sensibilities differed a bit from theirs.

The best way I can describe it is that they tended to favor beautiful and intriguing prose that didn't necessarily amount to anything the average reader could stomach for more than a page. I somehow managed to stifle the urge to scream, "Tell me a story, dammit!" during every reading session, and then retreated back to my frat house to read Travis McGee and Spenser mysteries.


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