The first two paragraphs of David Hajdu’s NYTimes review of Ivan Brunetti’s outstandingly awesome (Christmas gift of the year, hint hint…) ANTHOLOGY OF GRAPHIC FICTION, CARTOONS, AND TRUE STORIES:
Upholding its duty to officiate lay consecration in America, Time magazine recently assessed the latest candidates for anointment as the literary voice of the young generation, and the magazine found no writer worthy of the honor. “Every once in a while,??? the Time book critic Lev Grossman noted, there comes a novel that “feels as current as tomorrow’s e-mail, that gives readers the story of their own secret ineffable desperation with such immediacy??? that the work seems to encapsulate its era; it has the sound of its time. “Every once in a while,??? Grossman reiterated, “but not lately.???
Outlining some possible reasons for this plight, the Time piece cited the industrialization of creative writing through overabundant M.F.A. programs, literary brain drain to “better-paying media with bigger audiences??? like television, and the prospect that the muses are taking “a smoke break.??? All these are good theories. At the same time, Ivan Brunetti’s new “Anthology of Graphic Fiction, Cartoons, and True Stories??? suggests something else: that Time was simply looking in the wrong place. These days, the novel — at least the novel as we have always known it, as a long (or longish) work of prose — is scarcely the only kind of book being made by smart, imaginative young (or youngish) people. Some deeply gifted writers and artists are working to evoke not only the sound of our time, through writing, but the sights, through the union of words and drawings that Brunetti’s anthology refers to as graphic fiction and most people call comics (and sometimes spell as comix). If anyone really qualifies as the voice of the current literary generation, he or she could well be using the language of cartoons, captions and word balloons.
Could be. Could be.