Jejudo, South Korea
I received this letter about a month ago. The writer is a good friend, an American from Minnesota, and he was very angry at the comments of Mr. Enghahl.
I have permission, of course, to post it.
About a week a go, I attended a classical concert that ended with two ABBA songs. Nobody could understand my disgust--except this guy.
Note: I have edited it slightly, with permission of course, to delete some profanity.
I must write in vociferous protest of the recent comments by your man Horace Engdahl, whoever the hell he is and whatever (dubious) qualifications he holds to allow him to express such a naive and broadly sweeping dismissal of the state of American Literature, at least as he sees it.
First off, it strikes me as pretty rich for a Swede to call America 'insular'. English is the world's most widely-spoken language and the U.S. publishes more books each year than all other nations combined. We are also, though this seems to have escaped Mr. Engdahl's notice, the most racially and culturally diverse nation in the history of the world. With a population of under 10 million, and still predominantly Nordic, I find it hard to believe that Sweden is in a position to question the multiculturalism or pluralism of the U.S.
It seems more likely to me that Mr. Engdahl's comments stem from a personal dislike of the current policies of the U.S. government, or from the undisputed domination of world popular culture by American-produced films and music. Too bad he can't divorce his cliched, trendy anti-Americanism from recognizing deserving authors
Anyway, coming from a country whose proudest cultural export was ABBA, perhaps he should keep his lame comments to himself.
I submit for your consideration:
Cormac McCarthy (oh, and he won an Oscar, too, but you were probably too busy watching 9-hour Bergman films or the self-pleasuring pretentious posings of your neighbor, Lars von Trier)
David Foster Wallace (oops, too late)
Not American but also overlooked:
Missed the boat a long time ago:
Anyway, with the awards being handed out by a group of politically-correct socialists who'd rather recognize some obscure lesbian Turkman poet than quality authors who've produced major and universally acclaimed bodies of work, the pretty much lose whatever luster they might once have enjoyed.
So, if you see Mr. Engdahl, please relay this message:
Ride your reindeer back to whatever igloo whence you came, chew on some lutefisk or caribou jerky, read your obscure favorites, cut down on the aquavit, and pop in your favorite ABBA and AHA tapes all the while.
The only good thing to come out of your godforsaken icy wasteland of a country is The Hives, and what language do they sing in and in what genre? (Hint, since you've probably never heard of them: English, and punk rock, invented by, you guessed it, provincial Americans)
P.S. I can assure you that American teens aren't studying Swedish in school, because it's completely useless outside of Sweden.
P.P.S. Where was your outspokenness during the fatwah on Mr. Rushdie or the unfortunate Danish cartoonist. Or were your politically correct sensibilities afraid of 'offending' Islamofascist, medieval, intolerant thugs?