i saw will in the world in the port authority bookstore a few years back when it was on the times bestsellers list. also could probably find some harold bloom. but that's about it. (i find it a little hard to believe you've never seen foucault's pendulum in an airport bookstore, though.)
i generally don't disagree about literary criticism and it's frankfurtization, but i am not an expert. but it does tend to be heavily balkanized and politicized, which is both reasonable and not. though if one has to read commies, walter benjamin is apparently the best commie of them all (according to my wife). i've only read criticism as it relates to authors i know very well, because as rachel pointed out, it's largely written for people who already know the deal. or if they don't know specifically about the author, they understand the framework being used to discuss and contrast their work. since i only really forwards and backwards know (i.e. enough to teach a college class) the works of ws burroughs and henry miller, i don't read a lot of lit crit. what i do read often seems to either lionize or miss the point on the way to a personal attack or seven, with some exceptions, but perhaps such errors are unavoidable.*
however, i also can't deny that it's simply no surprise that americans wouldn't read literary criticism. getting them to read literature first is hard enough. we also don't have a shared canon anymore (and that's not really a totally bad thing), which is a major roadblock. you can't make references to certain foundational works because you can't be sure your audience has actually read them. you can't even necessarily hope that someone made a reasonably close film adaptation.
as ginslinger pointed out above:
The politics section of your typical bookstore isn't filled with what Rachel read in grad school, but rather Glen Beck.
more to the point, people read for pleasure, for plot, for "and then..." moments and shocks and surprises. reading about reading is often be tedious, and it's not fun in the common sense. you have to really love the shit out of literature in both concept and practice - and believe it has something to teach about life - to even begin to entertain such an idea. i love literature more than most americans, but i don't need to get all up in that shit for the most part. hell, i can barely read critical works about music i love, and not just because almost everyone who writes about what i like is a genuine frankfurt school and bizzond style marxist of some kind or another.
so rachel, why should everyone read carl schmitt?
* every thanksgiving jesse walker posts a thanksgiving prayer by burroughs, and every thanksgiving patiently explains around post 20 that burroughs was not a trust fund communist cocksucker** but rather a fuck off and die decentralist gun-loving cocksucker.
** because everyone that creates art who isn't named heinlein is a communist.***
*** well, because they took a college course once and there were marxists there and no one shot them!****
**** this tendency goes away almost entirely if reason does one of their "the libertarian themes of author/genre xyz" pieces, oddly enough.
"i ran over the cat and didnt stop just carried on with tears in my eyes joose driving my way to work." - God