I'm purposely not commenting on the Caryn James piece in the New York Times, because, you know, I just don't think it matters. It's capital-"B"-boring and, even worse, unclever. But oh, the reactions! That's a different story; I love them all, but maybe this one most at the moment:
Having failed to reference a single example to support her argument, James then badgers not the similarity of the books, but the close proximity and gender of the authors! How dare this quintet have vaginas or dine in Manhattan from time to time! Why, those two simple facts alone are enough to corrupt literature as we know it! Never mind that within the Bloomsbury Group, you couldn't get any more disparate than Lytton Strachey's crisp satire and Virginia Woolf's baroque paeans to consciousness. No! In the Caryn James universe, if you have at least two personal attributes in common with another person, you will live similar lives and make similar choices. Does that mean that all male writers living in San Francisco put together prose like Dave Eggers or Daniel Handler or Andrew Sean Greer? I couldn't name three more local writers whose work contrasts more sharply.From Edward Champion's Return of the Reluctant, definitely one of my favorites -- read the rest.