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A Reader's Manifesto

A Reader's Manifesto

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Encyclopedia
A Reader's Manifesto is a 2002 book written by B. R. Myers
Brian Reynolds Myers
Brian Reynolds Myers is an American associate professor of international studies at Dongseo University in Busan, South Korea, a contributing editor for the Atlantic, and an opinion columnist for the New York Times and Wall Street Journal...

 that was originally published in heavily edited form in the July
July 2001
July 2001: January – February – March – April – May – June – July – August – September – October – November – December-----July 1, 2001:* Aliso Viejo officially becomes the 34th city in Orange County, California....

/August 2001 issue of The Atlantic Monthly
The Atlantic Monthly
The Atlantic is an American magazine founded in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1857. It was created as a literary and cultural commentary magazine. It quickly achieved a national reputation, which it held for more than a century. It was important for recognizing and publishing new writers and poets,...

magazine. Myers criticizes the high status of literary fiction
Literary fiction
Literary fiction is a term that came into common usage during the early 1960s. The term is principally used to distinguish "serious fiction" which is a work that claims to hold literary merit, in comparison from genre fiction and popular fiction . In broad terms, literary fiction focuses more upon...

 compared to genre fiction
Genre fiction
Genre fiction, also known as popular fiction, is a term for fictional works written with the intent of fitting into a specific literary genre in order to appeal to readers and fans already familiar with that genre....

; he finds literary fiction full of affectations and pretentious wordplay but lacking in strong storytelling.

Description


Myers described the original article, which saw no end of responses from admirers and critics, as "a light-hearted polemic" about modern literature. Myers was particularly concerned with what he saw as the growing pretentiousness of American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 literary fiction
Literary fiction
Literary fiction is a term that came into common usage during the early 1960s. The term is principally used to distinguish "serious fiction" which is a work that claims to hold literary merit, in comparison from genre fiction and popular fiction . In broad terms, literary fiction focuses more upon...

. He was skeptical about the value of elaborate, allusive prose and argued that what was praised as good writing was in fact the epitome of bad writing. His critique concentrated on E. Annie Proulx, Cormac McCarthy
Cormac McCarthy
Cormac McCarthy is an American novelist and playwright. He has written ten novels, spanning the Southern Gothic, Western, and modernist genres. He received the Pulitzer Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction for The Road...

, Paul Auster
Paul Auster
Paul Benjamin Auster is an American author known for works blending absurdism, existentialism, crime fiction and the search for identity and personal meaning in works such as The New York Trilogy , Moon Palace , The Music of Chance , The Book of Illusions and The Brooklyn Follies...

, David Guterson
David Guterson
David Guterson is an American novelist, short story writer, poet, journalist, and essayist.-Early life:David Guterson was born May 4, 1956, in Seattle, Washington. During his childhood, he attended Seattle public schools and later attended the University of Washington where he earned Bachelor of...

, and Don DeLillo
Don DeLillo
Don DeLillo is an American author, playwright, and occasional essayist whose work paints a detailed portrait of American life in the late 20th and early 21st centuries...

, all of whom enjoyed substantial acclaim from the literary establishment. Myers directed many of his harshest charges at literary critics for prestigious publications such as the New York Times Book Review, whom he accused of lavishing praise upon bad writing either for political reasons, or because they did not understand it and therefore assumed it to have great artistic merit
Artistic merit
Artistic merit is a term that is used in relation to cultural products when referring to the judgment of their perceived quality or value as works of art....

. Myers also focuses on what he calls "the cult of the sentence", criticizing critics for pulling single sentences out of novels in order to praise their brilliance, while ignoring shortcomings in the novel as a whole.

Myers' article attracted heated criticism from aficionados of American literary fiction, especially of the authors Myers mentioned by name. Some critics charged Myers with being selective in his choice of targets, and of cherry picking particularly unreadable passages from the authors' works to make his point. However, Myers used only previously quoted and critically praised passages in an attempt to avoid that criticism.

Myers suggests there are only three possible responses when a critic is asked to review a work of literature:

1. “Praise the novel and novelist.”

2. “Lament that novel is unworthy of novelist’s huge talent,” (But still praise it).

3. “Review someone else’s novel instead.”

For Myers, critics have created a system of self-serving criticism which protects, embraces, and/or aids certain authors.

For many critics, Myers was continuing the popular comments on postmodernism
Postmodernism
Postmodernism is a philosophical movement evolved in reaction to modernism, the tendency in contemporary culture to accept only objective truth and to be inherently suspicious towards a global cultural narrative or meta-narrative. Postmodernist thought is an intentional departure from the...

, of which John Gardner (On Moral Fiction
On Moral Fiction
On Moral Fiction is a book-length essay by the American novelist John Gardner published in 1978. In this work, Gardner attacks what he sees as contemporary literature's lack of morality, which he calls the highest purpose of art and defines in the book...

) was the most recent proponent.

Evocative Prose: E. Annie Proulx


Myers' central complaint regarding Proulx is her use of nonsensical images, mixed metaphors, and poor word choice, to create a disjointed "slideshow" effect. Myers says Proulx writes to "startle or impress the reader." Myers asserts that this sort of writing must be read quickly, because if read slowly the meaning of the sentences falls apart. "With good Mandarin prose the opposite is true," Myers says, comparing Proulx's writing to the (more favorably viewed) writing of James Joyce
James Joyce
James Augustine Aloysius Joyce was an Irish novelist and poet, considered to be one of the most influential writers in the modernist avant-garde of the early 20th century...

 and Virginia Woolf
Virginia Woolf
Adeline Virginia Woolf was an English author, essayist, publisher, and writer of short stories, regarded as one of the foremost modernist literary figures of the twentieth century....

. Myers criticizes Proulx for being "too egocentric" to put herself in the place of her characters when deciding what is important and what is unnecessary. He also mentions that maybe Proulx writes one thing but means something else, therefore emphasizing the importance of polishing. Myers writes, "Someone needs to tell her that half of good writing is knowing what to leave out."

Edgy Prose: Don DeLillo


Myers asks how DeLillo's theme of "Life in Consumerland" can still be considered edgy after fifty years of exploration in literature. He points out that much of DeLillo's writing consists of long "shopping lists" of brand name consumer items. Myers also criticizes DeLillo's development of characters who "routinely talk and act like visitors from another planet." Myers asserts that DeLillo's characters serve primarily as vessels for DeLillo's thoughts, rather than as discrete characters. DeLillo, according to Myers, attempts to persuade his readers that if something does not make sense it is "over their heads," or that "something as inadequate as language can never do justice to the complexity of what they're trying to say." But Myers also points out that DeLillo uses a slippery sense of irony in his writing: "As so often with DeLillo's musings, the 'conclusion' is phrased as a rhetorical question. 'If this works for you, take it,' he is saying, 'but if you think it's silly, hey -- maybe I do too.'"

Muscular Prose: Cormac McCarthy


Myers criticizes McCarthy for filling his sentences with bulky words that contain no real detail or meaning. He uses the following as an example from The Crossing
The Crossing
Operation Badr or Plan Badr was the code name for the Egyptian military operation to cross the Suez Canal and seize the Bar-Lev Line of Israeli fortifications on October 6, 1973...

: "He ate the last of the eggs and wiped the plate with the tortilla and ate the tortilla and drank the last of the coffee and wiped his mouth and looked up and thanked her." Myers follows: "This is a good example of what I call the andelope: a breathless string of simple declarative statements linked by the conjunction "and". Like the "evocative" slide-show and the Consumerland shopping-list, the andelope encourages skim-reading while keeping up the appearance of 'literary' length and complexity. But like the slide-show (and unlike the shopping-list), the andelope often clashes with the subject matter, and the unpunctuated flow of words bears no relation to the methodical meal that is being described."

McCarthy's prose, Myers quips, "is unspeakable in every sense of the word," implying that it is both awful and frequently difficult to imagine a person saying. McCarthy's use of archaism
Archaism
In language, an archaism is the use of a form of speech or writing that is no longer current. This can either be done deliberately or as part of a specific jargon or formula...

s is also brought under scrutiny.

Spare Prose: Paul Auster


Myers's critique of Auster suggests he is wordy (rather than "spare") and over-describes situations, especially mentioning numerous details that are particularly mundane and obvious. By making a description too long, as Auster does, Myers says that an author encourages a reader to "feel emboldened to ask why it needed to be said at all." Myers accuses Auster of "simply wasting our time" with his wordiness. Myers states that dragging on a point too long might cause it to go stale, as it did in Auster's passage from Timbuktu
Timbuktu (novella)
Timbuktu is a 1999 novella by Paul Auster. It is about the life of a dog, Mr Bones, who is struggling to come to terms with the fact that his homeless master is dying....

. With an example from Auster's Moon Palace
Moon Palace
Moon Palace is a novel written by Paul Auster that was first published in 1989.The novel is set in Manhattan and the U.S. Midwest, and centres on the life of the narrator Marco Stanley Fogg and the two previous generations of his family.- Plot summary:...

, Myers describes how too many big and fancy words, used incorrectly, can discredit the speaker's intelligence. Myers also criticizes Auster for saying the same thing too many times; he states: "Swing the hammer often enough, and you're bound to hit the nail on the head sometime — or so Auster seems to think."

Generic Literary Prose: David Guterson


Myers critiques Guterson's novel Snow Falling on Cedars
Snow Falling on Cedars
Snow Falling on Cedars is a 1994 novel written by American writer David Guterson. Guterson, who was a teacher at the time, wrote the book in the early morning hours over a ten-year period...

mainly for its "sluggishness" of words and "echoic" thought process. Myers concludes that Snow Falling on Cedars is no more than "flat, stereotypical descriptions" of characters in a given context, and, were its pace not slow, it would be considered a genre novel. Myers criticizes Guterson's average descriptions of predictable characters that have often been explored in literature, and complains that Guterson brings nothing new to the characters or story.

Critics' rebuttals


Myers devotes a section of the book-length text to describing the response the shorter version published in the Atlantic Monthly received upon its publication. This portion of the book is an analysis of the criticisms of his original critique, and while it is written with Myers' characteristic humor, it is the place in the book where he most aggressively defends his views. Here are the general areas of criticism Myers describes, and his own responses to them; the titles are Myers' titles.

"Defending Difficulty"


Myers' critics call him a philistine and an advocate for low-brow literature, and suggest that his criteria for good literature implicitly define it as writing that is simple enough to require little effort to read.

Myers responds that books may also be difficult to read because of poor writing style, and he recommends other authors as examples of a complex style executed with skill.

"A Lesson in Methodology"


Some critics feel that it was Myers' presentation of the short passages (particularly in the case of Annie Proulx) that caused the writing to seem "overwrought." Bob Pohl of The Buffalo News said, "[Myers] pulls a number of short passages out of context and attempts to parse them for sense."

Myers responds that he limited his examples to passages already used as positive examples by literary critics. He also says that the passages are actually worse in context than they are out of context. He says: "I wasn't the one who took these things out of context. Nor am I the one who insists on regarding prose in terms of individual sentences instead of as a whole."

"Annie Who?"


Several of Myers' critics claim the authors Myers featured were already discounted by the literary establishment.

Myers was unable to find any evidence backing this claim, and responds to this argument with the absence of criticism for the authors and several examples of praise.

"Consoling Riddles"


Critics suggest that the very illogic and ambiguity Myers criticizes contains the value of the works: "consoling riddles," as one critic calls them.

Myers states “Literature need not answer every question it raises, but questions themselves should be clear.” “Difficult lucidity” in Myers' opinion is what is missing from Contemporary Prose – the kind of writing that, as he says, "rewards the use of a dictionary instead of punishing it."

"The Horses' Perspective"


Myers responds to criticism that his complaints "evinced faulty judgment". Myers points out that the critics made no attempt to argue that the defamed excerpts deserved the praise originally lavished on them. Instead the critics based their arguments on a matter of perspective.

"If You Can't Say Anything Nice"


Myers responds to the critics who say that he is too harsh and negative in his reviews, and he looks at the substandard rather than the good sections of a literary work. Myers refutes these criticisms by stating that he uses the same excerpts that were previously praised by other critics.

He also explains that some good parts do not qualify a work of literary prose as being worth the money and time it costs to purchase and read. Myers claims that the writer has become more important than the writing and any failings "only makes them more lovable" in the eyes of the modern critic.

"Decrying the Backward Glance"


Critics charge Myers with living in an "imagined past," in which all the authors were more talented.

Myers agrees to a point, but gives the example of the National Book Award winners between 1990 and 2001 compared to those of 1950 through 1961 winners.

1950 Nelson Algren
Nelson Algren
Nelson Algren was an American writer.-Early life:Algren was born Nelson Ahlgren Abraham in Detroit, Michigan, the son of Goldie and Gerson Abraham. At the age of three he moved with his parents to Chicago, Illinois where they lived in a working-class, immigrant neighborhood on the South Side...

.........1990 Charles R. Johnson
Charles R. Johnson
Charles R. Johnson is an American scholar and author of novels, short stories, and essays. Johnson, an African-American, has directly addressed the issues of black life in America in novels such as Middle Passage and Dreamer....



1951 William Faulkner
William Faulkner
William Cuthbert Faulkner was an American writer from Oxford, Mississippi. Faulkner worked in a variety of media; he wrote novels, short stories, a play, poetry, essays and screenplays during his career...

......1991 Norman Rush
Norman Rush
Norman Rush is an American novelist whose introspective novels and short stories are set in Botswana in the 1980s. He is the son of Roger and Leslie Rush...



1952 James Jones
James Jones (author)
James Jones was an American author known for his explorations of World War II and its aftermath.-Life and work:...

...........1992 Cormac McCarthy
Cormac McCarthy
Cormac McCarthy is an American novelist and playwright. He has written ten novels, spanning the Southern Gothic, Western, and modernist genres. He received the Pulitzer Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction for The Road...



1953 Ralph Ellison
Ralph Ellison
Ralph Waldo Ellison was an American novelist, literary critic, scholar and writer. He was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Ellison is best known for his novel Invisible Man, which won the National Book Award in 1953...

.........1993 E. Annie Proulx
E. Annie Proulx
Edna Annie Proulx is an American journalist and author. Her second novel, The Shipping News , won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Award for fiction in 1994, and was made into a film in 2001...



1954 Saul Bellow
Saul Bellow
Saul Bellow was a Canadian-born Jewish American writer. For his literary contributions, Bellow was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, the Nobel Prize for Literature, and the National Medal of Arts...

...........1994 William Gaddis
William Gaddis
William Thomas Gaddis, Jr. was an American novelist. He wrote five novels, two of which won National Book Awards and one of which, The Recognitions , was chosen as one of TIME magazine's 100 best novels from 1923 to 2005...



1955 William Faulkner
William Faulkner
William Cuthbert Faulkner was an American writer from Oxford, Mississippi. Faulkner worked in a variety of media; he wrote novels, short stories, a play, poetry, essays and screenplays during his career...

......1995 Phillip Roth

1956 John O'Hara
John O'Hara
John Henry O'Hara was an American writer. He initially became known for his short stories and later became a best-selling novelist whose works include Appointment in Samarra and BUtterfield 8. He was particularly known for an uncannily accurate ear for dialogue...

...........1996 Andrea Barrett
Andrea Barrett
Andrea Barrett is an American novelist, and short story writer. Her Ship Fever collection of novella and short stories won the National Book Award in 1996...



1957 Wright Morris
Wright Morris
Wright Marion Morris was an American novelist, photographer, and essayist. He is known for his portrayals of the people and artifacts of the Great Plains in words and pictures, as well as for experimenting with narrative forms. Wright Morris died April 25, 1998 at the age of 88 years. He is...

.........1997 Charles Frazier
Charles Frazier
Charles Frazier is an award-winning American historical novelist.Frazier was born in Asheville, North Carolina, and graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1973. He earned an M.A. from Appalachian State University in the mid-1970s, and received his Ph.D. in English from the University...



1958 John Cheever
John Cheever
John William Cheever was an American novelist and short story writer. He is sometimes called "the Chekhov of the suburbs." His fiction is mostly set in the Upper East Side of Manhattan, the Westchester suburbs, old New England villages based on various South Shore towns around Quincy,...

..........1998 Alice McDermott
Alice McDermott
Alice McDermott is Johns Hopkins University's Richard A. Macksey Professor of the Humanities. Born in Brooklyn, New York, McDermott attended St...



1959 Bernard Malamud
Bernard Malamud
Bernard Malamud was an author of novels and short stories. Along with Saul Bellow and Philip Roth, he was one of the great American Jewish authors of the 20th century. His baseball novel, The Natural, was adapted into a 1984 film starring Robert Redford...

.......1999 Ha Jin
Ha Jin
Jīn Xuěfēi is a contemporary Chinese-American writer and novelist using the pen name Ha Jin . Ha comes from his favorite city, Harbin.-Early life:...



1960 Philip Roth
Philip Roth
Philip Milton Roth is an American novelist. He gained fame with the 1959 novella Goodbye, Columbus, an irreverent and humorous portrait of Jewish-American life that earned him a National Book Award...

...........2000 Susan Sontag
Susan Sontag
Susan Sontag was an American author, literary theorist, feminist and political activist whose works include On Photography and Against Interpretation.-Life:...



1961 Conrad Richter
Conrad Richter
Conrad Michael Richter was a Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist whose lyrical work focuses on life along the American frontier.-Biography:...

........2001 Jonathan Franzen
Jonathan Franzen
Jonathan Franzen is an American novelist and essayist. His third novel, The Corrections , a sprawling, satirical family drama, drew widespread critical acclaim, earned Franzen a National Book Award, and was a finalist for the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction...



Myers says, "Prize committees have always been unreliable judges of quality...still, it's worth noting that there was too much good writing around in the 1950s for even the prize committees to miss."

"Clinging To Reality"


Myers' critics accuse him of putting too much emphasis on reality.

Myers responds that "I love it when Bulgakov
Mikhail Bulgakov
Mikhaíl Afanásyevich Bulgákov was a Soviet Russian writer and playwright active in the first half of the 20th century. He is best known for his novel The Master and Margarita, which The Times of London has called one of the masterpieces of the 20th century.-Biography:Mikhail Bulgakov was born on...

 makes a cat talk, and when Gogol dresses a nose in a civil servant's uniform, and -- if I may jerk the chain again -- when Stephen King gives a car a mind of its own." He says that he instead, "points out how absurd it is for the narrator of DeLillo's The Names
The Names
The Names is the seventh novel written by the American novelist Don DeLillo, first published in 1982. The novel, set mostly in Greece, is primarily a series of character studies, interwoven with a plot about a mysterious "language cult" that is behind a number of unexplained murders...

, the usual "elliptical" windbag, to claim that lying about one's destination creates a grave disparity in the listener's brain between the real and the false destination. In making this point I was merely judging The Names—as I judge every novel—by its own standards, in this case as a novel of serious ideas. (DeLillo himself has said that it represents 'a deeper level of seriousness.')"

"Rootless Cosmopolitanism"


Myers received many attacks on his history and character for his essay. For example, Judith Shulevitz criticized Myers for being a foreigner (he was an Army brat; see B.R. Myers), unacquainted with the literary establishment he is criticizing.

Myers responds, claiming that in these literary circles, social identity is more important than writing. Myers believes instead that a reader should trust his/her reason and intelligence to judge the writing, without necessarily being swayed by the "reputation" of the author.

Appendix: Ten Rules for "Serious" Writers


The Appendix: Ten Rules for "Serious" Writers at the end of the book is an ironic set of guidelines for writing, each of which refers to a previous violation of successful prose that he has criticized. Myers implies that following these rules will lead to literary success.

The rules are as follows:

1. Be Writerly: If your writing is too natural, then there is no way it is scholarly.

2. Sprawl: Content doesn't matter, it's all about size. Critics are impressed by big books, so brevity should be dismissed.

3. Equivocate: If it doesn't make sense, there can always be a good excuse. Truth can always be distorted as long as it makes the writer sound good. For example, the plot isn't important because the lack of plot is what's important.

4. Mystify: If people think that your writing is smarter than their writing, then they will respect your writing. If you sound smart (and definitely if you are published) then you must possess a brilliant mind.

5. Keep Sentences Long: If the sentence is not long and boring, then it is definitely not literature.

6. Repeat yourself: Repetition of words is important. If you don't mention your subject enough times, then the reader may not know what you are talking about. You may also use synonyms to show that you know how to use a thesaurus, and thus, must be an intelligent writer.

7. Pile on the Imagery: Your writerly credentials will bloom to greatness if your ability to tie together multiple similes and metaphors like the wooden pieces of a Lincoln log set, never disintegrate from the fiery visage of the sun. The more literary devices that you can throw together, the better the writing.

8. Archaize: If thine style of writing reflects an age long gone, and a world unfamiliar to the modern reader, than thou art indeed a master of the quill and the ink. This is very similar to rule number four, except you must write as if you are stuck in the past, rather than stuck in a dictionary.

9. Bore: The word boring may as well be a synonym to the word scholarly. Along the lines of rule number one, you cannot write naturally, or make your words interesting. It is simply not scholarly. People are not supposed to be able to understand your writing, they are only supposed to realize that your writing is brilliant, because it just might be the cure for insomnia.

10. Play the part: Remember to be as you write, scholarly, literate, practically a god. You must understand that when you seem smart, when you seem to believe in yourself, others will do the same, because, how could someone that is so smart and so pompous be wrong?

Other Authors Unflatteringly Referred to in A Reader's Manifesto


The main authors criticized in A Readers Manifesto are Proulx, DeLillo, McCarthy, Auster, and Guterson. However, B.R. Myers also criticizes the following authors. He states pretentiousness can also be found in their prose.
  • Thomas Wolfe
    Thomas Wolfe
    Thomas Clayton Wolfe was a major American novelist of the early 20th century.Wolfe wrote four lengthy novels, plus many short stories, dramatic works and novellas. He is known for mixing highly original, poetic, rhapsodic, and impressionistic prose with autobiographical writing...

    , for Look Homeward, Angel
    Look Homeward, Angel
    Look Homeward, Angel: A Story of the Buried Life is a 1929 novel by Thomas Wolfe. It is Wolfe's first novel, and is considered a highly autobiographical American Bildungsroman. The character of Eugene Gant is generally believed to be a depiction of Wolfe himself. The novel covers the span of time...

    .
  • Jay McInerney
    Jay McInerney
    John Barrett McInerney Jr. is an American writer. His novels include Bright Lights, Big City; Ransom; Story of My Life; Brightness Falls; and The Last of the Savages...

  • Rick Moody
    Rick Moody
    Rick Moody is an American novelist and short story writer best known for the 1994 novel The Ice Storm, a chronicle of the dissolution of two suburban Connecticut families over Thanksgiving weekend in 1973, which brought widespread acclaim, became a bestseller, and was made into a feature film of...

    , for Demonology.

Editors, Critics, and Newspapers Quoted Unflatteringly in A Reader's Manifesto

  • Lee Abbott, Walter Kendrick, Richard Eder, Christopher Lehmann-Haupt
    Christopher Lehmann-Haupt
    Christopher Lehmann-Haupt is an American journalist, critic and novelist who has worked in the field of books all of his professional career. He began as an editor for various New York City publishing houses, among them Holt, Rinehart and Winston and The Dial Press, from where he moved in 1965 to...

    , Jayne Anne Phillips, Michiko Kakutani, Vince Passaro, Robert Hass, Richard B. Woodward, Madison Smartt Bell
    Madison Smartt Bell
    Madison Smartt Bell is an American novelist. He was raised Nashville, and lived in New York, and London before settling in Baltimore, Maryland....

    , Jim Shepard, Janet Burroway, Susan Kenney, and Bill Goldstein, critics for The New York Times
    The New York Times
    The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

    .

  • Herbert Gold, critic for Reviewmanship.

  • John Skow, critic for Time (magazine)
    Time (magazine)
    Time is an American news magazine. A European edition is published from London. Time Europe covers the Middle East, Africa and, since 2003, Latin America. An Asian edition is based in Hong Kong...

    .

  • Carolyn See, K. Francis Tanabe, and Linton Weeks, critics for The Washington Post
    The Washington Post
    The Washington Post is Washington, D.C.'s largest newspaper and its oldest still-existing paper, founded in 1877. Located in the capital of the United States, The Post has a particular emphasis on national politics. D.C., Maryland, and Virginia editions are printed for daily circulation...

    .

  • Dan Cryer, critic for Newsday
    Newsday
    Newsday is a daily American newspaper that primarily serves Nassau and Suffolk counties and the New York City borough of Queens on Long Island, although it is sold throughout the New York metropolitan area...

    .

  • Cornel Bonca, Paul Maltby, and Mark Osteen, writers from White Noise: Text and Criticism.

  • Jay McInerney
    Jay McInerney
    John Barrett McInerney Jr. is an American writer. His novels include Bright Lights, Big City; Ransom; Story of My Life; Brightness Falls; and The Last of the Savages...

    , Shelby Foote
    Shelby Foote
    Shelby Dade Foote, Jr. was an American historian and novelist who wrote The Civil War: A Narrative, a massive, three-volume history of the war. With geographic and cultural roots in the Mississippi Delta, Foote's life and writing paralleled the radical shift from the agrarian planter system of the...

    , Dennis Drabelle, A.M. Homes, James Marcus, and A.J.A. Symons, editors.

  • Rob Swigart, critic for The San Francisco Chronicle.

  • The New Republic
    The New Republic
    The magazine has also published two articles concerning income inequality, largely criticizing conservative economists for their attempts to deny the existence or negative effect increasing income inequality is having on the United States...

    , magazine.

  • John Leonard, editor for The New York Review of Books
    The New York Review of Books
    The New York Review of Books is a fortnightly magazine with articles on literature, culture and current affairs. Published in New York City, it takes as its point of departure that the discussion of important books is itself an indispensable literary activity...

    .

  • Martin Amis, writer for The War Against Cliché
    The War Against Cliché
    The War Against Cliché is an anthology of essays, book reviews and literary criticism from the British author Martin Amis. The collection received the National Book Critics Circle award in 2001.-Title:...

    .

  • Michael J. Agivino, critic for Newsweek
    Newsweek
    Newsweek is an American weekly news magazine published in New York City. It is distributed throughout the United States and internationally. It is the second-largest news weekly magazine in the U.S., having trailed Time in circulation and advertising revenue for most of its existence...

    .

  • The Village Voice
    The Village Voice
    The Village Voice is a free weekly newspaper and news and features website in New York City that features investigative articles, analysis of current affairs and culture, arts and music coverage, and events listings for New York City...

    , newspaper.

  • Kirkus Reviews
    Kirkus Reviews
    Kirkus Reviews is an American book review magazine founded in 1933 by Virginia Kirkus . Kirkus serves the book and literary trade sector, including libraries, publishers, literary and film agents, film and TV producers and booksellers. Kirkus Reviews is published on the first and 15th of each month...

    , journal.

  • The Sunday Telegraph, newspaper.

Editors and Critics Positively Referenced in A Reader's Manifesto


B.R. Myers provides favorable editors and critics as means to confirm his arguments. The following are present within the 2002 edition of A Reader's Manifesto:
  • Louis L'Amour
    Louis L'Amour
    Louis Dearborn L'Amour was an American author. His books consisted primarily of Western fiction novels , however he also wrote historical fiction , science fiction , nonfiction , as well as poetry and short-story collections. Many of his stories were made into movies...

  • Saul Bellow
    Saul Bellow
    Saul Bellow was a Canadian-born Jewish American writer. For his literary contributions, Bellow was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, the Nobel Prize for Literature, and the National Medal of Arts...

  • David Lodge (author)
    David Lodge (author)
    David John Lodge CBE, is an English author.In his novels, Lodge often satirises academia in general and the humanities in particular. He was brought up Catholic and has described himself as an "agnostic Catholic". Many of his characters are Catholic and their Catholicism is a major theme...

  • Cyril Connolly
    Cyril Connolly
    Cyril Vernon Connolly was an English intellectual, literary critic and writer. He was the editor of the influential literary magazine Horizon and wrote Enemies of Promise , which combined literary criticism with an autobiographical exploration of why he failed to become the successful author of...

  • Christopher Isherwood
    Christopher Isherwood
    Christopher William Bradshaw Isherwood was an English-American novelist.-Early life and work:Born at Wyberslegh Hall, High Lane, Cheshire in North West England, Isherwood spent his childhood in various towns where his father, a Lieutenant-Colonel in the British Army, was stationed...


Books Recommended by B.R. Myers


In A Reader's Manifesto, Myers presents these novels as examples of clear, concise literary style:
  • To The Lighthouse
    To the Lighthouse
    To the Lighthouse is a novel by Virginia Woolf. A novel set on the Ramsays and their visits to the Isle of Skye in Scotland between 1910 and 1920, it skilfully manipulates temporal and psychological elements....

    , by Virginia Woolf
    Virginia Woolf
    Adeline Virginia Woolf was an English author, essayist, publisher, and writer of short stories, regarded as one of the foremost modernist literary figures of the twentieth century....

    .
  • Those Barren Leaves
    Those Barren Leaves
    Those Barren Leaves is a satirical novel by Aldous Huxley, published in 1925. The title is derived from the poem 'The Tables Turned' by William Wordsworth which ends with the words:...

    , by Aldous Huxley
    Aldous Huxley
    Aldous Leonard Huxley was an English writer and one of the most prominent members of the famous Huxley family. Best known for his novels including Brave New World and a wide-ranging output of essays, Huxley also edited the magazine Oxford Poetry, and published short stories, poetry, travel...

    .
  • The Adventures of Augie March
    The Adventures of Augie March
    The Adventures of Augie March is a novel by Saul Bellow.It centers on the eponymous character who grows up during the Great Depression...

    and The Victim (novel), by Saul Bellow
    Saul Bellow
    Saul Bellow was a Canadian-born Jewish American writer. For his literary contributions, Bellow was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, the Nobel Prize for Literature, and the National Medal of Arts...

    .
  • The Man Without Qualities
    The Man Without Qualities
    The Man Without Qualities is an unfinished novel in three books by the Austrian writer Robert Musil....

    , by Robert Musil
    Robert Musil
    Robert Musil was an Austrian writer. His unfinished long novel The Man Without Qualities is generally considered to be one of the most important modernist novels...

    .
  • Le Père Goriot
    Le Père Goriot
    Le Père Goriot is an 1835 novel by French novelist and playwright Honoré de Balzac , included in the Scènes de la vie Parisienne section of his novel sequence La Comédie humaine...

    , Illusions perdues, and La Comédie humaine
    La Comédie humaine
    La Comédie humaine is the title of Honoré de Balzac's multi-volume collection of interlinked novels and stories depicting French society in the period of the Restoration and the July Monarchy .-Overview:...

    by Honoré de Balzac
    Honoré de Balzac
    Honoré de Balzac was a French novelist and playwright. His magnum opus was a sequence of short stories and novels collectively entitled La Comédie humaine, which presents a panorama of French life in the years after the 1815 fall of Napoleon....

    .
  • The Orchard Keeper
    The Orchard Keeper
    The Orchard Keeper is the first novel by the American novelist Cormac McCarthy.The novel is set in a small, isolated community in Tennessee, during the inter-war period...

    , by Cormac McCarthy
    Cormac McCarthy
    Cormac McCarthy is an American novelist and playwright. He has written ten novels, spanning the Southern Gothic, Western, and modernist genres. He received the Pulitzer Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction for The Road...

    .
  • The Key to Rebecca, by Ken Follett
    Ken Follett
    Ken Follett is a Welsh author of thrillers and historical novels. He has sold more than 100 million copies of his works. Four of his books have reached the number 1 ranking on the New York Times best-seller list: The Key to Rebecca, Lie Down with Lions, Triple, and World Without End.-Early...

    .
  • Moby-Dick
    Moby-Dick
    Moby-Dick; or, The Whale, was written by American author Herman Melville and first published in 1851. It is considered by some to be a Great American Novel and a treasure of world literature. The story tells the adventures of wandering sailor Ishmael, and his voyage on the whaleship Pequod,...

    , by Herman Melville
    Herman Melville
    Herman Melville was an American novelist, short story writer, essayist, and poet. He is best known for his novel Moby-Dick and the posthumous novella Billy Budd....

    .
  • Hondo, by Louis L'Amour
    Louis L'Amour
    Louis Dearborn L'Amour was an American author. His books consisted primarily of Western fiction novels , however he also wrote historical fiction , science fiction , nonfiction , as well as poetry and short-story collections. Many of his stories were made into movies...

    .
  • Malone Dies
    Malone Dies
    Malone Dies is a novel by Samuel Beckett. It was first published in 1951, in French, as Malone Meurt, and later translated into English by the author....

    , by Samuel Beckett
    Samuel Beckett
    Samuel Barclay Beckett was an Irish avant-garde novelist, playwright, theatre director, and poet. He wrote both in English and French. His work offers a bleak, tragicomic outlook on human nature, often coupled with black comedy and gallows humour.Beckett is widely regarded as among the most...

    .
  • Farewell to Manzanar
    Farewell to Manzanar
    Farewell to Manzanar is a memoir published in 1973 by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James D. Houston. It was adapted in the form of a television movie in 1976 starring Yuki Shimoda, Nobu McCarthy, Pat Morita, and Mako....

    , by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston
    Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston
    Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston is an American writer. Her writings are mostly focused on the ethnic diversity of the United States...

     and James D. Houston
  • A Dark Night's Passing
    A Dark Night's Passing
    A Dark Night's Passing is the only full-length novel by Japanese writer Shiga Naoya. It was written in serialized form and published in Kaizo in between 1921 and 1937...

    and At Kinosaki, by Naoya Shiga.
  • What Makes Sammy Run?
    What Makes Sammy Run?
    What Makes Sammy Run? is a novel by Budd Schulberg. It is a rags to riches story chronicling the rise and fall of Sammy Glick, a Jewish boy born in New York's Lower East Side who very early in his life makes up his mind to escape the ghetto and climb the ladder of success...

    , by Budd Schulberg
    Budd Schulberg
    Budd Schulberg was an American screenwriter, television producer, novelist and sports writer. He was known for his 1941 novel, What Makes Sammy Run?, his 1947 novel The Harder They Fall, his 1954 Academy-award-winning screenplay for On the Waterfront, and his 1957 screenplay for A Face in the...

    .
  • Appointment in Samarra
    Appointment in Samarra
    Appointment in Samarra, published in 1934, is the first novel by John O'Hara. It concerns the self-destruction of Julian English, once a member of the social elite of Gibbsville ....

    , by John O'Hara
    John O'Hara
    John Henry O'Hara was an American writer. He initially became known for his short stories and later became a best-selling novelist whose works include Appointment in Samarra and BUtterfield 8. He was particularly known for an uncannily accurate ear for dialogue...

    .
  • Hangover Square
    Hangover Square
    Hangover Square is a 1941 novel by English playwright and novelist Patrick Hamilton . Subtitled A tale of Darkest Earl's Court it is set in that area of London in 1939....

    , by Patrick Hamilton (dramatist)
    Patrick Hamilton (dramatist)
    Patrick Hamilton was an English playwright and novelist.He was well regarded by Graham Greene and J. B. Priestley and study of his novels has been revived recently because of their distinctive style, deploying a Dickensian narrative voice to convey aspects of inter-war London street culture...

    .
  • The Second Curtain, by Roy Fuller
    Roy Fuller
    Roy Broadbent Fuller was an English writer, known mostly as a poet. He was born in Failsworth, Lancashire, and brought up in Blackpool. He worked as a lawyer for a building society, serving in the Royal Navy 1941-1946.Poems was his first book of poetry. He began to write fiction also in the 1950s...

    .
  • Gormenghast
    Gormenghast (novel)
    Gormenghast, by Mervyn Peake, is the second novel in his Gormenghast series. It is the story of Titus Groan, 77th Earl of Groan and Lord of Gormenghast Castle, from age 7 to 17. As the story opens, Titus dreads the pre-ordained life of ritual that stretches before him...

    , by Mervyn Peake
    Mervyn Peake
    Mervyn Laurence Peake was an English writer, artist, poet and illustrator. He is best known for what are usually referred to as the Gormenghast books. They are sometimes compared to the work of his older contemporary J. R. R...

    .
  • Things as They Are or The Adventures of Caleb Williams
    Things as They Are or The Adventures of Caleb Williams
    Things as They Are; or The Adventures of Caleb Williams by William Godwin is a three-volume novel written as a call to end the abuse of power by what Godwin saw as a tyrannical government...

    , by William Godwin
    William Godwin
    William Godwin was an English journalist, political philosopher and novelist. He is considered one of the first exponents of utilitarianism, and the first modern proponent of anarchism...

    .
  • The Waiting Years, by Fumiko Enchi.
  • The Wild Geese (novel)
    The Wild Geese (novel)
    Mori Ogai's classical novel, The Wild Geese or The Wild Goose was first published in serial form in Japan, and tells the story of unfulfilled love set against a background of social change. The story is set in 1880 Tokyo. The novel contains commentary on the changing situation between the Edo and...

    , by Mori Ōgai
    Mori Ogai
    was a Japanese physician, translator, novelist and poet. is considered his major work.- Early life :Mori was born as Mori Rintarō in Tsuwano, Iwami province . His family were hereditary physicians to the daimyō of the Tsuwano Domain...

    .

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