Piping Hot

Concocted by four editors of something called Equator magazine (I am told it is a large glossy tabloid of odd people doing odd things), Hot Type's subtitle is: "Our Most Celebrated Writers Introduce the Next Word in Contemporary American Fiction." On the basis of the writing selected, I don't know if I would let some of "our most celebrated writers" into the house without locking up the silver and providing a chastity belt for the cat.

Maybe, at one time, such an anthology—though not assisted by so many cooks—might have been a good idea. It would be interesting to see whom, for instance, James Joyce or Marcel Proust would have championed, or whom Faulkner, Fitzgerald, or Hemingway would have seen fit to hype and blurb. But not any more. All that is nowadays required to become an outstanding author is to come up with one well-pushed, well-hyped book and jump right into the pantheon with' Susan Minot, Bob Shacochis, and Mona Simpson. It is fitting that the writers these three outstanding authors pick are as derivative and reeking of the trendy masters as themselves.

Three other outstanding authors—Cynthia Ozick, Joy Williams, and William Kennedy—do a slightly better job of picking but, to adapt Francis Stuart's evaluation of Frank O'Connor, these are "the knitters at the soft center of American writing." I, you, they—Rebecca...

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