Interviewing Sam Lipsyte
The Loggernaut Reading Series takes on Sam Lipsyte.
LRS: Is fiction still relevant?
Lipsyte: I guess it's about what kind of scale you're interested in. I read something once about the screenwriter Robert Towne, who wrote Chinatown. He was talking about the golden age of Hollywood up until Watergate and Vietnam and all that. Before those events, the Hollywood movie was rooted in a certain idea: America is basically good; there's corruption, but we can root it out. The system itself is a good thing and the narrative was built around that assumption. And then, after Vietnam and Watergate, everyone still agrees, but now everyone agrees that everything's fucked and the system itself is rotten. You have your anti-heroes, but basically everyone's still on the same team.
The problem is that after that period, everyone became dispersed and everyone's in a different niche, so there are no common assumptions. I don't think this precisely applies to literature, but I do think it's an interesting point. So people talk about the novel being dead—it's not that it's dead, it's that the novel is no longer necessary to a lot of people.
People no longer have to fake reading books the way they used to. There's no basic assumption from which to work from anyway. So, very urbane, literate people talk about video games at cocktail parties. That's the new Dickens—it's Halo.