I challenge the Lit-Criterati

The Mathematician and I are not very good about anniversaries. We both forget them. Sometimes we’ll remember at the same moment and then we both get a little cranky, thinking the other one should have thought to say something. The most we ever do is go out to dinner, and usually — if he remembers in time — the Mathematician will bring me some flowers.

I’m also very bad about birthdays. The three I really should remember (my own, the Mathematician, and the Girlchild) can even cause me to pause. I would plead early onset Alzheimers, but I have always been this way.

So it shouldn’t be a surprise that I completely overlooked the fact that this weblog turned three on September 13. In fact, that really isn’t important in the general scheme of things. I hesitate to write about really important things (good or bad) because no amount of logical reasoning or education can conquer the superstitious Italian in me. Who right now is in high gear, tossing salt madly over one shoulder and hissing at me to stop, for dog’s sake, before I do real damage.

Thus I point you to somebody else with a really good post. Paperback Writer has a list of ten books she’d like to read. You’ll have to go look if you’re interested because there’s no way to describe it without being reductive.

I don’t have the energy to come up with ten books, but I do have one book I can tell you about:

I’d like to read a literary novel — a novel marketed to the litcrit crowd and written by one of their established superpowers– with an unabashedly happy ending. I’d challenge Updike, Munro, Byatt, just to start with. These three are masters of their craft, and as masters should be equal to the challenge: tell a story and make the ending happy. No excuses, no tricks.

Some other rules:

  • this novel has to be written in third person POV
  • it may not be set on a university campus
  • none of the main characters may be writers, aspiring writers, editors, publishers, teachers of writing
  • it doesn’t have to contain a love story, but extra points if it does
  • it may not be a parody or satirical treatment

What major figure in the literary world would take up this challenge? Be brave enough to put aside, for one book only, the cherished no pain no gain ideology that has permeated the entire genre?

If I had $100,000 dollars to spare, I’d open up a real competition.