Leonard Pierce considers the proscription against comedic fiction in the Hall of Great Literature.
Flann O’Brien you see, had a problem. He was funny. And in the minds of many of the most influential critics of the western canon, funny had best not darken the door of literature if it wants to be called great. A novelist can be forgiven lots of things — pretension, bad behavior, unchecked ego, questionable politics, or becoming a living self-parody — but what a novelist can never do is rouse in the minds of a critic or theorist the suspicion that he’s telling jokes. They don’t like it; they think something’s being put over on them. They begin to imagine that the teller of jokes is having them on, encouraging a chuckle at the expense of an art form at which they, the critics, have spent a lifetime making serious faces.
Also in the latest (long-awaited) issue of The High Hat:
- John James’ “Hell Is Not Socially Constructed” (on the writings of the great James Hynes);
- Michael Tomczynszyn’s “We Have the Technology” (a reading of Laurie Anderson’s eerie cult hit, “O Superman”).