For the past few weeks, I’ve been reading nonfiction almost exclusively. There have been a few novels scattered here and there, but not as many as my usual literary diet requires. So to break out of my nonfiction rut, I decided to read a bigtime, serious, attention-getting novel. I grabbed one that generated a ton of headlines and seemed interesting.
Unfortunately, I didn’t do much research or read any reviews. Otherwise I could have saved myself the complete underwhelming experience of Keith Gessen’s All the Sad Young Literary Men.
After I finished the book, I finally rooted around for reviews and commentary. “I must have completely missed the boat on this book,” I told a friend. “This thing got so much attention. Maybe my time in nonfiction world sapped what little critical ability I had for novels.”
I found there was plenty of Gessen criticism in existence, more than enough to save me the twenty-five bucks if I had only looked prior to purchase. However, there is also a great deal of praise for the novel as well. To which I am dumbfounded.
Oh well, I guess that’s what makes debates about literary merit interesting. I’m just disappointed that I didn’t have a better return-to-fiction-reading experience.