Consider these page-turners for your next beach vacation: a transcription of all the weather reports from a radio news station recorded over one year, a re-typed issue of The New York Times, a chronicle of the utterances made by one person for an entire week, a similar account of every bodily gesture the same man made over the course of 13 hours, or 600 pages worth of words with rhyming r-sounds. Understandably, you’re probably not tacking these texts onto the bottom of your holiday wish list, much less considering them as notable for anything other than how boring they sound. But Kenneth Goldsmith—an avant-garde poet, experimental radio personality, and professor—considers these litanies to be poetry. In fact, the list is a small sampling of his published works.
One of the most obvious was not to do minor or silly books. That’s a really strange injunction if you look at literary history because most every novelist we accord major prestige did all sorts of things. The only way for me to obey, “OK, now you’re major: Stay major!” was to only write books as long, sorrowful and widescreen as “The Fortress of Solitude.”
It was a really meaningless injunction for me, but it was certainly there. I guess I frivolously — and some would say hopelessly — tried to negotiate with that by doing other kinds of books."
— Jonathan Lethem on the constraints of being a “major” author. (via Salon)