The extraordinarily high levels of mass proficiency in novel-writing is, paradoxically, the greatest contemporary enemy of the novel today. It is drowning out, or flushing away, the particularity that used to give novels their appeal.
What we need now are bad writers. Not, of course, run-of-the-mill bad writers (which is to say, not incompetent, or banal, or trivial or merely conventionalised writers). No, what is needful are heroically bad writers, writers who are prepared to stain the form with their own fluids: writers prepared to be as dull as Mann, as self-indulgent as Proust, as sadistic as Nabokov, as creatively old-fashioned as Tolkien. Writers who have the genius to turn their particular badness into fertile new possibilities for the form.