To Tell or Not to Tell

Greg Gerke in the Los Angeles Review of Books:

Hugh Kenner

I only realized I’d been looking for something over some years when I finally found it in an obscure archived page of The Washington Post from February 1985. Hugh Kenner’s review of Gilbert Sorrentino’s essay book Something Said. The two lines are tucked away in the middle:

Page after page and instance after instance, Sorrentino wrestles with the same radical misunderstanding: that fiction and poetry are valuable for what they “tell” us. To rebut that without seeming to exalt empty “style” can be the hardest expository labor in the world.

I must have needed an answer I could fit into a tweet and then brazenly not tweet, owing to a pre-internet-birthed monkish streak. Still, the answer had to be small to be sustained (and certainly pithy) and Kenner provided it — an answer to what has gone awry in literature locally and in most other English-speaking countries — films, too.

More here.