Ambition in Pulp


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Dear Mr. Joseph Finder:

In your essay in the NY Times, "Where Have All the Strivers Gone," you wrote about ambition. More specifically, your subject was the ambition of literary authors' characters and how the authors of high art/literature do not strive to have monetary success these day, it seems to you. That's not the only success, fortunately.

am·bi·tion ( P ) Pronunciation Key (m-bshn)n.
An eager or strong desire to achieve something, such as fame or power.
The object or goal desired: Her ambition is the presidency.
Desire for exertion or activity; energy: had no ambition to go dancing.

It takes as much ambition, perserverance and dedication to write popular fiction (pulp) as it does to write literature. The only real differences between pulp and literature is the intelligence, skill and ingenuity of the author these days. It's seldom that works of literature actually make the author significant sums of money because the work is too demanding for most of the works possible readership at the time the work was/is done.

Most of the major publishers won't pick up a book on only the merits of the writing and its genius; they must be able to imagine that the book will sell well. A truly ambitious work seldom sells, though the best seller list does have some truly ambitious literature on the list most weeks.

However, there have been many genius writers who have fame without money, or become famous and their families or foundations wealthy only after their death. While reading your article, the only author I kept thinking of was Samuel Beckett. Genius? Yes. Ambitious? Completely! Every word had to be perfect for him. Successful? "Waiting for Godot.” Granted, there are seldom true heroes in his work, only tramps, the insane and the peculiar. Most of his characters lacked the ambition of monetary success, but they all were filled with the ambition to say the perfect word at the perfect moment and that’s the type of success that differentiates pulp from literature.

I commend you on your ambition and your will to take on the bitch-muse of money, Mr. Finder. Hopefully, you have kids to give you immortality, 'cause your work ain't gonna getchya there, pal.

Best regards,

Frank Sauce

"Literature is news that stays news" -Ezra Pound


1 Responses to “Ambition in Pulp”

  1. Anonymous bibliophage 

    You said:

    "The only real differences between pulp and literature is the intelligence, skill and ingenuity of the author these days."

    I would personally have to add "connections and or marketing plan" of the author's agent and or publisher" to the the items that differentiate pulp from literature. Personally, I think Oprah has "pulped" a couple of great writers. I also contend that there is a lot of incomprehensible crap masquerading as literature these days. Obtuseness and imprecision do not equal depth and complexity.

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