Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The problem with art

Many months, perhaps a year, ago, I sent a copy of "The Job" to Big Al's Books and Pals, a review blog. I had no reason to, except that he was embroiled in a shouting match with another author and had gotten quite a lot of buzz, so I thought it was a good outlet. In May he finally posted about the book, which is no slam on him but indicates the backload of books he must have. The review appears here. As you can see, his approach is simply from a political perspective, and so he misses the greater points of the book. (Still gave it three stars, though.) But this is the way we want it to be.

What artists should want more than anything else is to leave room for the reader (in the case of literature) to bring something of himself to the party. If the point of a book or poem, or painting or piece of music, hits the audience over the head so hard that there's no room for interpretation left, then you've lost everyone who does not agree with you 100% already. I placed "The Job" within a corporate setting simply to give it a point of familiarity to westerners, and most particularly Americans, and "Big Al" took that to be an apologetic for capitalism. And maybe that indeed is what evangelicals look like to the world, or even to themselves. But it's not the point of the book. That's the price you pay as an artist, however, and my best hope is that there's enough of "The Job" stuck in his head that he'll reconsider the themes.

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