Bad manners indeed to gloat for too long over your own reviews, but if you saw me speak at the Lion Boxing Club last week you may be interested in these two paragraphs from today's papers. (And if you didn't: well, I hope to write a lot more about this topic in the future, so consider this an overture.) Firstly, from Peter Aspden's review of Whatever Happened to Modernism? by Gabriel Josipovici in the Financial Times:
"The best contemporary fiction fizzes with multiplicities, ambiguities and playful experiments with form. It surely does not need to keep reminding us of its own anxieties. It would make for a dull and angst-ridden literary universe that was permanently and ostentatiously wrestling with its own inadequacies. That may keep academics in work, but it would bore the hell out of the rest of us. The market for disenchantment is a limited one."
Secondly, from Scarlett Thomas' review of my own book in the Guardian:
"The "well-made" realist novel has been thoroughly picked over lately, and many commentators have wondered why writers persist with, as Coetzee puts it, 'its plot and its characters and its settings'. Some have said the realist novel is dead, or just boring. But... great realist fiction has always been about messing with reality – exposing it, heightening it, exploring it, smashing it up a bit, turning it inside out and shaking it to get a better look at it. It doesn't always have to be "realistic", but it does need to be compassionate... Because we are emotionally involved in the drama of the novel and its characters, we can more meaningfully engage with its thematic questions."
(And an odd coincidence that will be of interest to no one but myself and a few school friends: the review I've just quoted has been printed right next to a review of a poetry collection by Lachlan Mackinnon, my old A-level English teacher.)