Susan’s Inside Writing: Rock and Roll, baby!


I hope you’ve been wondering why I’ve been silent about a rock and roll collection of short stories winning literature’s biggest prize, the Pulitzer. The book I’m talking about is A Visit From the Goon Squad, written by Jennifer Egan.

I mean, hello? What could be better exposure for the genre than the Pulitzer Prize? Right there, isn’t that enough? Doesn’t that give the genre the credibility I’ve long been seeking for it?

Yes and no.

Yes because hello? Here’s a book about rock and roll that’s getting huge exposure and selling like mad. As I’m typing this, it’s the number one seller at, and I’m sure it’s number one at Amazon, B&N, and every indie store on the planet. Winning the Pulitzer tends to raise a book’s profile and make people think they want to read it. You can call them bandwagon jumpers if you’d like. I call them people in search of something good to read. (I just wish they’d experiment a little more!)

No because this book isn’t identified as a piece of rock and roll fiction. It’s identified as brilliant, interlocked short stories that just happen to be about an aging record exec.

If you follow my Rocks ‘n Reads blog, you know what I thought of Good Squad.

What you may not know is what I thought of Ms. Egan’s dismissive comments about chick lit. Reading it for myself, I don’t think it’s so terrible. She’s encouraging women to shoot high. There’s nothing wrong with that. And frankly, I don’t see her cutting down “that Harvard student” for plagiarizing chick lit so much as plagiarizing BAD fiction. (It’s the last paragraph on the page. Go read it.) Maybe the authors “that Harvard student” ripped off are the best in the genre. I don’t know. I don’t overly care for a lot of chick lit, myself — although I do keep trying. The chick lit books I’ve read that I’ve liked are books that I’ve REALLY REALLY liked. For me, there’s not a lot of middle ground.

So I can’t totally vilify her. I CAN wish she’d won an award for a book that didn’t bore me into deleting it off my iPod. (It was a library book, thank goodness!). I CAN wish the profile of rock and roll fiction (or maybe we should rename the genre Music Fiction, since there’s nothing rock and roll about some of the books I’ve identified as great reads) was higher, so that Ms. Egan had been recognized for not only what some considered to be a great book, but a great ROCK AND ROLL book.

Keep reading, folks. We’ll get to the point where people recognize the brilliance in the Rock Books genre. One day.


1 Comment

  1. Nessa

    April 25, 2011 6:15 pm

    I rarely like prize winners myself. I like a really good story besides one that is just well written. I’ve found most boring myself.

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