Derek Zoolander Center For Kids Who Can’t Read Good — a stint here might improve Coelho’s reading skills.
Irreverence towards the classics can carry the potential to create something new and excellent, but there’s reasonable doubt as to whether Coelho’s recent jab against James Joyce’s Ulysses could ever be a harbinger of such literary titty-fondling.
The crux of his facile attack rests on a common-sense distinction that stinks – as most common-sense distinctions do – of intellectual laziness: ‘Coelho says writers fell into disgrace when they sought recognition through form, not content.’
Oh, ok, form vs content. So, Joyce could have written about the exact same things but have chosen different words? Molly Bloom’s monologue would have worked better with punctuation and a bit of an editorial sweep?
Just indulge this thought for a few seconds and imagine how Ulysses would have turned out, had Coelho been its editor.
Wouldn’t we have sacrificed Joyce’s Dublin, a city so soaked in the author’s perception (‘form’) that we find ourselves in a different world (‘content’) altogether: unrecognisable, strange, fascinating?
Perhaps that’s too complicated a relation between form and content for the self-proclaimed ‘literary wizard’ to handle.
It’s also proof that his enterprise to ‘make the difficult seem easy’ is thwarted by his own inability to get the difficult in the first place.
One can take issue with many things to do with Ulysses — its misogyny and mimetic schoolboy sneer are two things that annoy me more than just a little — but faulting it for its difficulty and so-called absence of content only betrays and perpetuates a conceited mediocrity that I, for one, don’t need.