I always liked the “Sweet Spot” feature David Carr and A.O. Scott did for a while a few years ago. The idea was a good one–a casual discussion of the current events in culture–even if it wasn’t sustainable because not every week was worth talking about. Carr was one of the must-reads of the New York Times. His bracingly honest memoir lent everything he wrote with credibility. His journalism seemed personal in an obscure way. He will be missed.
Booking photos from David Carr’s 1987 arrest. It was from this low point that he eventually found his sweet spot as a respected media critic.
People don’t want moral complexity. Moral complexity is a luxury. You might be forced to read it in school, but a lot of people have hard lives. They come home at the end of the day, they feel they’ve been jerked around by the world yet again for another day. The last thing they want to do is read Alice Munro, who is always pointing toward the possibility that you’re not the heroic figure you think of yourself as, that you might be the very dubious figure that other people think of you as. That’s the last thing you’d want if you’ve had a hard day. You want to be told good people are good, bad people are bad, and love conquers all. And love is more important than money. You know, all these schmaltzy tropes. That’s exactly what you want if you’re having a hard life. Who am I to tell people that they need to have their noses rubbed in moral complexity?
–Jonathan Frazen, the author of morally complex novels, on why people don’t want or need morally complex novels. He prefaced these remarks by declaring, “I don’t care what people read.”