The modern novels stood before me, anyhow, in a stack; and you can imagine their titles for yourself. There was “Suburban Sue: A Tale of Psychology,” and also “Psychological Sue: A Tale of suburbia;” there was “Trixy:A Temperament,” and “Man-Hate: A Monochrome,” and all those nice things. I read them with real interest, but, curiously enough, I grew tired of them at last, and when I saw “Grimm’s Fairy Tales” lying accidentally on the table, I gave a cry of indecent joy. Here at last, here at last, one could find a little common sense. I opened the book, and my eyes fell on these splendid and satisfying words, “The Dragon’s Grandmother.”That at least was reasonable; that at least was comprehensible; that at least was true. “The Dragon’s Grandmother!”
– G.K. Chesterton, “A Dragon’s Grandmother”
When it comes to modern literature I tend to read genre fiction instead of poetry and the “literary” novels. Genre fiction has so much of the broad thematic strokes and earnestness that you can’t get away with in serious literature: if you’re going to write about, say, the ultimate destiny of mankind, you’d better be Arthur C. Clarke. And you can’t get away with it because, among the intelligentsia, Plato’s cave has caved in. But with that, all we’re left with is various literary representations of trendy academic theories, politics, “realism”, and, of course, mindless exercises in cathartic self-expression. But this is boring to everyone except the people who have those pet concerns anyway. I’ll take J.K. Rowling over Margaret Atwood any day.
See also: Charles Murray’s recent essay.