Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Paris Review (or...the hell of boring people)

It's been quite a long time since I checked out The Paris Review online. I checked it out this morning, and my brain almost died on the stem.

I somehow ended up there, to read an essay about friendship. That was an incoherent and boring essay. But I went ahead and pulled up some other categories while there -- on music, on poetry, on cinema, nostalgia, my literary hero, etc.

I thought that first essay must have been a one-off specimen of dullness. So I was unprepared to discover that everything else I pulled up to read at The Paris Review was also mind numbing, vapid, pretentious. It was almost frightening to witness such a uniformity of intellectual shallowness. As if this journal is the hive into which dubious bees form a collective sensibility, depositing their anemic written pollen.

The complacent tone of these articles is unnerving.

Of course, there are many other categories listed there, many articles I did not check out. Maybe somewhere inside that journal are things that might be interesting. But of the 30 or so things I glanced through -- zero. The statistical probability is not encouraging.

Who am I to find that stuff boring? Who am I to criticize? Those writers are, apparently, important essayists. They got published in The Paris Review. I am not an important essayist, not even a published or publishable writer. But good-freaking-grief! I somehow trust my judgement regarding what is interesting and well written. The stuff I read or glanced through at The Paris Review -- the topics are not compelling to me and the prose does not spark.

Apparently unbeknownst to me, a certain type of "literary" mind has grown and spread like a vast acreage of fungus. It is painful to encounter this generic fungal sensibility. It is hurtful to read prose written without imagination, flair, depth. It is unpleasant to read things by droning, diaristic pseudo-intellectuals.

The horror! The horror!


  1. Thank you for sticking by your judgment and not caving in! I know so many people with hipster pretensions who read The Paris Review, and most of the time I'm just like, what IS this navel-gazing muck? There are no interesting ideas or thought-provoking pieces, and the prose absolutely does lack spark.

    People look their nose down at you so much if you tell them this, however. Classic case of the emperor who has no clothes.

  2. Hi, Jayashree!

    It is very good to know I'm not alone in my impression of what is in that journal. I was truly shocked and thoroughly disappointed when going through the stuff there.


  3. I actually did get something useful from them. The color ad for a 2013 luxury automobile inspired a poem. Didnt read any of the establishment goobitily goop features. These folks may rightfully claim to be important but they cant claim anyone is inspired or enjoying reading. We lost Borders on their watch and literature as a brand has reached an all time low during their reign of boredom. Im afraid the academy may one day figure out that their victory will be a pyrich one.

  4. Good thoughts. Thanks for dropping by!