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November 10, 2004

Comments

Emma

'They both knew he was a fine writer, but he couldn’t compete with the new postmodernist darlings that were filling up the bestseller lists. The ones who threw all the book parties for industry insiders and the critics. The critics!'

Does the fact that this stuff made my day mean I'm a terrible person?

Scott

thanks a lot TEV. i clicked on your link and now i can't get the smell of dirty feet out of my computer.

J.D. Finch

Well, thanks for the notice, "TEV".

But the fact that it comes from drama queens like you and Champion and "Emma" certainly lessens the impact of the blow of your oh-so-incisive criticisms.

You know, I could do what you folks do -- that marvelous circle-jerk you have going where you all link to each other, repeating what someone else has posted and appending your own "clever" comments. But there are just so many of you that I wonder: Why should I bother?

Sure, I turn my hand to fiction, as many in the ULA do. The nice thing about creating something you can call your own: it will always be there -- unlike the links to other's works that you spend your shallow gossipy time putting up.

And really, you don't have to tell us that you think elitist gate keepers "aren't such a bad thing". It's obvious what you aspire to as you suck up to the establishment and writers that are actually writers and not electronic diarists. (I have a blog too, but I don't waste my time on endless links that will just die eventually anyway.)

But in the scheme of things the only gate that you guard is a rusty and squeaky little one that is the entrance to your rather limited world. As you and your "influential" bloggers (yeah right) are all about the snide mocking of those that actually create, instead of merely link and prattle, I feel I'm actually in pretty good company with the ULA.

You and your peers are just the type the ULA would like to see disappear from the scene, making space for real artists instead of fringe sycophants. Has Emma posted recently? I don't see it. And Champion, the Camille of bloggers seems to be taking another sabbatical. Why don't you one up him and take your own permanent vacation? You folks seem to be dropping like flies. Meanwhile, real writers are carrying on doing what writers do. It’s called writing, not linking.

By the way, yours (and Emma's and indirectly Ed's re his petty bs over another piece on the ULA site) was the first serious criticism I've gotten. Oh my, what a thrill it is to have a famous blogger, such as yourself, trash my work! Here's hoping that all of you just come out and jump all over the ULA --"bottom dwellers" according to you -- once again since a few of us have committed the cardinal sin of writing something you don't like.

I have no idea how far your little crit-fest of my and the ULA’s work traveled in your so-called “blogospere”, and frankly I don’t care. I gave the link to the ULA stuff to Maud knowing that she has a wide readership and thinking that some might be interested.

Unfortunately you and the other piranhas thought you could have some fun with it.

Wake up, blog boy. We're not writing for you cliquesters. we’re writing for people who care about where literature is going, not about where they can get hitching a ride on the back of literature. What is it you lit bloggers don’t understand about that?

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TEV DEFINED


  • The Elegant Variation is "Fowler’s (1926, 1965) term for the inept writer’s overstrained efforts at freshness or vividness of expression. Prose guilty of elegant variation calls attention to itself and doesn’t permit its ideas to seem naturally clear. It typically seeks fancy new words for familiar things, and it scrambles for synonyms in order to avoid at all costs repeating a word, even though repetition might be the natural, normal thing to do: The audience had a certain bovine placidity, instead of The audience was as placid as cows. Elegant variation is often the rock, and a stereotype, a cliché, or a tired metaphor the hard place between which inexperienced or foolish writers come to grief. The familiar middle ground in treating these homely topics is almost always the safest. In untrained or unrestrained hands, a thesaurus can be dangerous."

SECOND LOOK

  • The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald

    Bs

    Penelope Fitzgerald's second novel is the tale of Florence Green, a widow who seeks, in the late 1950s, to bring a bookstore to an isolated British town, encountering all manner of obstacles, including incompetent builders, vindictive gentry, small minded bankers, an irritable poltergeist, but, above all, a town that might not, in fact, want a bookshop. Fitzgerald's prose is spare but evocative – there's no wasted effort and her work reminds one of Hemingway's dictum that every word should fight for its right to be on the page. Florence is an engaging creation, stubbornly committed to her plan even as uncertainty regarding the wisdom of the enterprise gnaws at her. But The Bookshop concerns itself, finally, with the astonishing vindictiveness of which provincials are capable, and, as so much English fiction must, it grapples with the inevitabilities of class. It's a dense marvel at 123 pages, a book you won't want to – or be able to – rush through.
  • The Rider by Tim Krabbe

    Rider_4

    Tim Krabbé's superb 1978 memoir-cum-novel is the single best book we've read about cycling, a book that will come closer to bringing you inside a grueling road race than anything else out there. A kilometer-by-kilometer look at just what is required to endure some of the most grueling terrain in the world, Krabbé explains the tactics, the choices and – above all – the grinding, endless, excruciating pain that every cyclist faces and makes it heart-pounding rather than expository or tedious. No writer has better captured both the agony and the determination to ride through the agony. He's an elegant stylist (ably served by Sam Garrett's fine translation) and The Rider manages to be that rarest hybrid – an authentic, accurate book about cycling that's a pleasure to read. "Non-racers," he writes. "The emptiness of those lives shocks me."