Literary Non-excellence?

Deidre Donahue in a review for USA Today of Ian McEwan’s Saturday claims literary excellence is darn hard. “Few writers can sustain excellence, particularly if they publish more than one book a decade. The widely admired best-selling British writer Ian McEwan, author of the acclaimed Amsterdam, which won the 1998 Booker prize, proves no exception. His new novel, Saturday, can only be described as dull.” The book is heartless, she says, written with skill, not feeling.

Many reviewers disagree, but what do you think about her opening claim on excellence? Has McEwan maintained a literary excellence over the past decade? Has anyone else, even if the measure of that excellence differs a bit (i.e. Terry Pratchett may be excellent, but not the same excellent as McEwan.)?

1 Comment

  1. I think as a general rule talent isn’t limitless. So if you rush things or try to crank out work at a pace that can’t be sustained then you end up with less.

    In the political world, those writers who have too many demands on their time (syndicated columns, talk shows, etc.) see their quality diminsh and I notice. I would think the same applies to writing novels. Of course there are exceptions . . .

Comments are closed.