more sermon for the choir

samuel delany in a nice interview in the latest LOCUS:

“As my agent … says, this is the worst time for American writing in general, that anyone has ever seen. One of the ‘Serious Young Writers’ showed me a rejection letter from a major publisher that said, ‘Your book is much too well-written for us to publish.’ Those were the words! Literary publishing has changed entirely in the last 25 years.”

“When I talk to people with MFAs who are now working as editors for literary publishers, they say, ‘What we learned in college is a kind of writing that our current bosses do not want to let in the door.’ They want nothing to do with ‘good writing.’ These are places like Random House; Harcourt Brace; Knopf; and Farrar, Straus & Giroux, who are the epitomes of literary publishing in this country, yet they’re willing to say, ‘I’m sorry. That’s not what we’re interested in anymore. We have a couple of slots a year for novels like that.’

“This is not a healthy situation for writing in general. It’s not healthy for science fiction, not healthy for anyone. I think we have five publishers left in New York, and 25 years ago there were 79! So when we’re talking about ‘commercial’ versus ‘art’ publishing, we’re using a leftover vocabulary. We’re still looking at the world through 1955-colored glasses.”

Read more excerpts from the interview here. Full interview in the March 2010 issue.

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