Quote Originally Posted by Norman Mjadwesch View Post

Have literary tastes changed so much that most of these books that we consider to be iconic would not make it past a first beta read without being found wanting?
Sadly, yes. I think there are two reasons for this: 1) People are stupid. And I don't mean that in the cynical sense, but the clinical one. People today are becoming less intelligent as a matter of fact. They are also less patient. When TV and Movies overtook books as a main form of entertainment, people became trained to expect "excitement" in much shorter time periods. 2) A lot of this is on agents. I have no doubt that were someone like Tolkien to submit today, he would be "snarked on" by some unremarkable agent telling him he was too wordy and droll and that he ought to learn to write before trying again. And that's the main point: I don't think people understand that being an agent is no different than any other job. They aren't passionate or romantic or whatever you imagine. They want, like most of us, to do as little work as possible and get home. And so if there is some overly simplistic, but at least nominally successful formula they can follow to expedite that process, they will.

Having said all that, while it is certainly an uphill battle, I woulnd't say it's impossible. The market of intelligent readers is still there, just smaller. And, while most agents do merely follow a lazy formula, I'm sure some still look for anything exceptional, however it might be presented.