Joseph Bottum mentions Andrew Ferguson’s cocktail-party test for books—would you be embarrassed at a cocktail party for not having read it?—and notes the last such novel Ferguson cites passing this test was Tom Wolfe’s Bonfire of the Vanities in 1987.
Now that visual art has lost its import, now that poetry seems to have become an insular and thereby minor art, now that modern classical music has long been unable to command support, the entire realm of what used to be called high culture seems not so much in abeyance or even in retreat but in ashes. This high culture gave those of us enamored of it intimations of an elevated life, however far it might have been out of our reach, a life lived deeper down and beyond quotidian concerns. We can, of course, continue to live on the high culture of the past, with the great music of Austria and Germany, the painting of Italy, Holland, and France, the literature of Russia, Western Europe, and America, most of it produced a hundred and more years ago. Painful, nevertheless, is it to contemplate that further production in these magnificent lines of culture may well be closing down, and that contemporary culture henceforth will consist of streamed movies made chiefly from comic-book characters, video games, and graphic novels.
I dunno. A shift in mediums is fine. The question is: is the content still good?
Original source: What Happened to the Novel?