|Gary Shteyngart / photo: Mark Coggins|
“We’re having a Korean meal,” he said between mouthfuls of meat wrapped in lettuce leaves. “I enjoy the protectionism of certain Japanese foods—they’re small, they’re done with a lot of thought behind them. But often, I want to eat a lot of meat and I want myself to be on fire. That’s what I want to do. Sure, it’s sloppier than certain cuisines. Or classical French versus southern Italian, for example. You know where my sympathies lie. They lie with southern Italian, Korean—that’s the kind of person I am. I don’t give a crap if every sentence isn’t beautiful.”
There’s something liberating about this idea. It can free one up to write boldly, to take risks. Those are the ways we grow as writers and the way literature remains vital. Still, for some writers, it could be dangerous. Not all writers can write “messy” and still entertain, say something compelling, be coherent. And what does this do to the artistry of the craft? Does it skew it too much in favor of plot and detail, away from the power of language? I’ve not yet read this novel, so I'm not making any statements about Shteyngart’s choices. I’m thinking of this more as an approach to the craft and I’m still chewing on it. What do you think? Do you give a crap if every sentence is beautiful?