Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Do You Want Sweeping Change?

I was listening to NPR the other day, and they had a guy on there who was a political scientist going off about the state of fiction today. He was saying that there are no classics being written today because writers only deal with personal themes, not sweeping social or political ones.

He used Grapes of Wrath as an example of a great work of fiction that would never be written today because current writers are not concerned with the problems of society. He said they only look within themselves.

I whole-heartedly disagree. It may be true that writers today are more introspective, and I see where, at times, this could be too much off a good thing. However, while the radio man was very persuasive, I don't necessarily think that great fiction needs to institute huge changes in society. Changing one person's outlook on the world, making one person a little more open, is a great change, too. Either way, it is change one person at a time.

Of course, I am not saying that I think fiction should ignore society's ills. I just saying that society's problems are often captured in the problems of one person. What do you think?


  1. I believe you're dead-on. Consider a rock tossed into a tranquil pond and the ripples which emerge from the core to cover the whole pond. Likewise, if you write an original piece, its quality will capture the imagination of the world and can bring profound change.

  2. I heard the same story. It certainly was thought-provoking! One thing the guy said that I partly agreed with, though, is that so many writers today go through the gauntlet of accumulating degrees and attending writer's workshops that they may neglect actually living and experiencing things. When he said this, I think he supposed that all of someone's experiences automatically shows up in their writing and enriches it, which isn't exactly true. If you write with conviction and find an audience, you can effect change, even if that change is personal.