Lit Kebab: Snobbery with Guest Appearances by Kafka and Jonathan F

I'm pretty much flying by the seat of my pants here because I haven't really thought about what I have to say, or if I have anything to say, I just feel like inviting my raw thought process into this blog more and like making an entry right now.

Last Wednesday I was playing pub trivia at a bar with some people and the category of Literature came up toward the end.  I don't remember what the question was but the answer was Stephenie Meyer's The Host.  (I will not attach a link or a tag to that.)  We wrote the correct answer but included a parenthetical comment that it was sad that this was the sole question in the Literature category.  Earlier tonight I was at the same bar and the Literature category came up again and this time the host said, "Well, we won't call it literature, we'll call it books."  I have these moments, really all the time, where I think, "Am I a snob?  Is this what being a snob is?"  The short answer is yes.

I think what bothers me about being a snob can be best explained using the example of Kafka's "hunger artist" (not while explicating the story in the meantime but just for my own petty purposes).  The idea being (watch out, spoilers! :p) that this guy is capable of starving himself for months at a time not because he has superhuman abilities or control but because he had never found a food that he liked.  It occurred to me the other day, more or less randomly during a car trip, that my general lack of excitement about "genre" or "mainstream" books and movies is really just that, a lack of excitement.  It's snobbery by default.

I just happened upon an open letter on the Virginia Quarterly Review blog that involves Jonathan Franzen getting bitched out for being, in shorthand, a snob.  I'm still not entirely sure of what I think of this because I haven't read the Guardian article.  It has been brought to my attention but I haven't been in the mood to read it yet, I just really haven't.  I might get around to it soon or I might not.  I have read some of the other things he's said recently and I'm not sure precisely what his deal is, but his words don't leave a pleasant taste in my mouth these days.

I feel like I'm going to have to confront that whole monster on here sooner or later because matters of snobbery have become matters to mull over recently.  Matters of class and literature as a commodity, and literature with a capital L and what that means.  Feel free to discuss.  Otherwise, I'm sure I'll raise these topics again.


  1. So why is it not more accurate to think of yourself as a literary aesthete? Snobbery tends to have more to do with trashing or ignoring the values of others, but I don't think personal preference makes you a snob.

    1. I agree in theory, however, I think using the word "aesthete" would make me look ten times more snobbish than I already do. :)

  2. I trust you're correct. How about "literary athlete"?