Literary Squabbles

Salman Rushdie lashed out at John Updike in a recent interview from The Guardian:

“I don’t subscribe to the very predominantly English admiration of Updike. If you take away Rabbit is Rich and Rabbit at Rest, and some of the short stories, there’s a lot of … slightly … garbage. Think of The Coup! The new one [Terrorist] is beyond awful. He should stay in his parochial neighbourhood and write about wife-swapping, because it’s what he can do.”

To be honest, all the enmity at the top echelons of the literary world becomes quite tiresome. Why do writers always have to denounce other writers, dismissing their skills as illusory and their oeuvre as crap? It’s obviously an ego thing, especially in this case, as Updike had unfavorably reviewed Rushdie’s last book Shalimar the Clown. I mean, it makes for great fun for us on the sidelines, to watch literary greats spar in the ring, but sometimes it feels less like sparring and more like an alley fight with groin shots and sucker punches. Which can also be fun, albeit eventually wearisome.

Of course, Rushdie seems to be a lightening rod for this type of thing. In July it was the Brick Lane fracas with Greer. And V.S. Naipaul virtually denounced any sympathy for Rushdie during the fatwa. I could go on.

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