Unworthy people are picking what to read, you guys!

This is worth the read. But as always, out of respect for those of you who are, unlike me, spending your Friday productively, I’ll summarize:


The rabble are reading! And they’re reading whatever they want! This qualifies as an emergency, because books are for writers to read amongst themselves, and the unwashed masses must get off the writers’ lawns. But if they must peer through the window and beg, from out there on the lawn, they ought to at least have the decency to read what they’re told.


This isn’t the current trendy tsunami of crap tantrum, although Krystal does call it “a huge mistake” that “the prevailing mood welcomes fiction and poetry of every stripe, as long as the reading public champions it.”

But academics were hip to the tsunami of crap way before it became a thing. Their desire to be the sole arbiters of what does and does not qualify as great is old. Old, and also male, and white.

Yeah yeah I’m a smartass, but this is the problem I’ve always had with the attempt to define, and hold onto, a literary canon: you don’t get to.

Define it for yourself, sure. Scoff at the crap. I sure do. For the purposes of teaching or discussion or just good old fashioned snobbery, put together a working definition the group can agree on. Great. Go to it. But that’s not what we’re talking about, is it? Because the word canon implies official authority.

Well, guess what? There isn’t an authority. No, there really isn’t. No, you really aren’t it. I don’t care how expert, or smart, or educated, or well-intentioned you may be. Books are not yours. There is no individual or governing body that gets to tell the reading public what their “prevailing mood” ought to be. That’s because, and say it with me now:

Books are for everyone.

2 words on the street

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