The Heroic Act of Being A Boring Writer

Several readers liked my post on Fredric Jameson’s praise of boring books. In the comments,  gjoelfranco asks — “Is there a limit?” I took this to mean: is there a limit to the boringness of a novel that we can or should accept?

My guess is that Fredric Jameson would say: no. Ideally, there shouldn’t be a limit. A book can be valuable no matter how boring it becomes.

On a related note, on Twitter, @jamesjrobertson responded to the post, developing in a series of tweets the idea that boredom can be seen as an appropriate response to modern industrialised society. Boredom should be seen as a writer’s serious attempt to present something very real about our lived experiences today.

Modern life (here I am paraphrasing James Robertson) is so mechanical, so rote and routine, so overwhelming in scale, that to portray it accurately, authors are fully entitled to bore us. The boredom we experience, reading novelists such as Roberto Bolano or David Foster Wallace, brings home to us our inability to actually feel all the feedback, noise, and horror available to our globally connected present day lives.

I will admit, in terms of my everyday reading, I find the thesis challenging, but on a broader level, I really enjoy the argument.

2 thoughts on “The Heroic Act of Being A Boring Writer

  1. Nice to know I can take some solace in my writing being heroic, i.e. boring. Of course, it’s in the mind of the beholder. For example, I read Austerlitz in an MFA class, and was the only one who found it compelling—the others felt as though they’d been tortured by its lack of interest. In our compartmentalized world, we are conditioned to view those things that are not within our special area of interest as not worth our time, hence boring.

    And I find much of the modern world infinitely boring.


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