Thursday, January 28, 2010

Lack of Individuality

I spend a lot of time at a certain bookstore because writing in their cafe' inspires me to get my books on their shelves. It's also a good place for a little eavesdropping, getting the feel of the public.

The biggest complaint I've been hearing lately is the sameness in the new books coming out. No variety, no surprises, nothing. The same old, same old formula.

(Before anyone thinks I'm repeating my own discontent about literary fiction I aired at Boxing the Octopus recently, the last three complaints overheard all dealt with the surfeit of vampire romance novels.)

I don't think the problem's with publishing per se. The lack of indivuality permeates our entire culture. Every one wears the same clothes, eats the same things, uses the same products. Our public school system is now designed to produce obedient little drones, convenient for the gray cubicle corporate life. In a word, blah. And if anyone steps out of line, well then, we have a pill to fix that.

Ironically, some of the best literature (or at least my favorites) came about during the greatest upheaval in society. But was the literature created because of the social change or a result of it? GK asked me that question when we discussed Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin in the course of events leading up to the Civil War.

Does social change make a difference in creativity? I'd love to hear some opinions.

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