While reading from The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, I came across this gem:
I have read nothing lately, except a foolish modern novel which I read at one sitting – or rather one lying on the sofa, this afternoon in the middle of a terrible thunderstorm. I think, that if modern novels are to be read at all, they should be taken like this, at one gulp, and then thrown away – preferably into the fire (that is if they are not in one’s own edition). Not that I despise them because they are modern, but really most of them are pretty sickly with their everlasting problems.
It is my personal opinion that the most infuriating species of book snob is the Time Lord.
(You, over there, in the Dr. Who costume. Yes, you. Sit the bloody Dalek down. I’m talking about something different.)
Now. The Time Lord considers it his God-given duty and privilege to inform us that his reading pile dates back to before the Flood. Nothing after that is fit for consumption, it seems. If you ask him about it, he’ll take you bunny-chasing on the brutally short trail of Circular Reasoning:
Why don’t you read modern fiction?
Because it is vile and vapid.
Why is it vile and vapid?
Because it is modern.
Clearly, they haven’t thought this through very well. And that is why I love Lewis’ little qualifier: “Not that I despise them because they are modern, but…”
If you’re gonna lay a steaming pile of hate on the dreck that all too frequently passes for fiction these days, at least do it for the write reasons. Do it, like Lewis, because they are “pretty sickly with their everlasting problems.” Do it for the dreadful prose, do it for the lazy storytelling, do it for the characters with all the intrigue of candle wax. But you should know why you hate something beyond its spot on a timeline.