The Home Front
October 12, 1995
New York, NY 10012
Bob Shacochis, in his essay, “The Enemies of the Imagination”
(November), rightly assails those who would tell him what to
write and what not to write. Unfortunately, he goes on to tell
other writers what to write and what not to write.
It is just as “perverse” for him to denigrate autobiographical
fiction as it is for critics to attack him for writing about
Caribbean natives. From A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
and The Sun Also Rises to A River Runs Through It and A Fan’s
Notes, hundreds of great works of literature are exactly what
Shacochis would call narcissistic and solipsistic, “exercising an
imagination that never leaves home.” If Bret Easton Ellis’s
books are bad, it’s because he’s a bad writer, not because he
hasn’t been to Baghdad.
Different writers find different sources of inspiration: some in
foreign cultures, some in their own lives (whether in the living
rooms of Bloomsbury or the battlefields of Italy). We should
encourage all forms of literature equally and not prejudice
ourselves in any particular direction.