The younger writers are so self-conscious, so steeped in a certain kind of liberal education, that their characters can’t condone even their own sexual impulses; they are, in short, too cool for sex. Even the mildest display of male aggression is a sign of being overly hopeful, overly earnest or politically untoward. For a character to feel himself, even fleetingly, a conquering hero is somehow passé. More precisely, for a character to attach too much importance to sex, or aspiration to it, to believe that it might be a force that could change things, and possibly for the better, would be hopelessly retrograde. Passivity, a paralyzed sweetness, a deep ambivalence about sexual appetite, are somehow taken as signs of a complex and admirable inner life.
Wednesday, January 06, 2010
'...a certain vanished grandeur...'
Yet another reason I love Katie Roiphe (read the full essay in the Jan 3 NYT book review for many more reasons) -- here she's talking about guys like Dave Eggers and Benjamin Kunkel, in contrast with the old rogues, Updike and Bellow and Mailer and Roth: