Last Friday Ann Hulbert alleged in a Slate article that the instructional tone of Dr. Seuss’s books has spoiled a generation of U.S. readers for literature. Hogwash. There are myriad reasons for the drop-off in literary readership — not least of which is that much of what’s published is banal and boilerplate* — but I tend to join James Wood and Andrew Delbanco in believing that the academization of criticism has something to do with it. More on that later.
*Trust me, I didn’t think so, either, but of the books arrive at my doorstop in little boxes maybe one in ten (and I’m being kind here) is worth reading.