January 29, 2008


Michael O'D

This business seems silly to me. The article says that Amis is getting a salary of £80,000 (or just under $160,000) per year from the university. That's not an outlandish figure for a superstar professor. I wonder what Harvard Law School pays Alan Dershowitz and Charles Ogletree, who spend most of their time not giving lectures or grading papers but writing bestselling pop non-fiction. I can tell you it's a lot more than $160,000 a year. Music schools in our country pay HUGE salaries to superstar performers (like soprano Silvia McNair at Indiana University) in return for a masterclass or two and a recital. They must find that the investment pays off.

Just so here. If Amis's university admits just five extra students who want to go to a school where Amis teaches, the salary will be paid back several fold.

Steven Augustine

But, Michael, bashing Amis for *whatever* he does, at this point (can't wait until we find out he's been bonking the au pair), is such risk-free fun!


Presumably Amis is spending time reading his students' work as well. So I doubt he's spending an hour a week at work. More like five or six hours a week.

Jude Bloom

The last time around, all the bitching was about all the piles of filthy money he was receiving so he could get a tooth job for a new wife. Of course, in reality he had cancer of the jaw and was eating his fish and chips through a straw.

Slagging authors is nothing new, but I can't remember another writer who's been hit with the money thing so often. I don't know why this is. I mean, I dunno, when's the last time you went in for a job and didn't ask to be paid as much as you thought you could get them to pay you? Athletes -- this is not a joke -- will soon be measuring their career earnings in *billions*.

I say pay every single writer out there as astronomically as you can get away with. Good on 'em.

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  • 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."


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