The Deep Stuff of Legends

Thirty years ago—in November 1988—the novel as an art-form sputtered out and died. And a man named Neil Gaiman killed it.

None of that is true, of course. At least, none of it is true in the sense of being the actual particulars, the genuine facts on the ground. Novels didn’t cease to be written. Novelists didn’t forget that book-length fiction was one of the central devices by which modern times tried to explain itself to itself. Publishers didn’t fold up their businesses and steal away into the night. There’s a lot of ruin in an art-form, and the novel, with its sneer of cold command, yet gazes out on the world of art it claims to dominate.