April 20th, 2010


Other People's Writing

Two interesting articles on the Web today.

The first, written by my friend Sabrina Weiss for Elle magazine, is called "Regretting Rhinoplasty," but it's about it's about a lot more than her nose. It's also a great article about sexual orientation, Judaism, concepts of beauty, and familial tensions.

I had spent my first postcollege year in San Francisco, but my father asked me to return to New York because of his waning health. Within a few weeks, I met a woman and one night accidentally fell asleep at her apartment, waking at 5 a.m. to discover 16 messages from my mother on my cell phone. I rushed home and tearfully came clean. My mother lambasted me for deceit and pronounced my sexuality a “phase.”

And in writing-and-Nick's-subway-line news:

'Resident Evil' director eyes Peter Brett's novels, written on BlackBerry during F train commute

So that's what I'm supposed to be doing on the subway instead of reading, drinking coffee or staring vacantly into the void!

Author vs. Author Smackdown!

One of my favorite books on my shelf is Andre Bernard's Rotten Rejections, which collects numerous hilariously misguided and shortsighted rejections of now classic novels.

To whit, this from a rejection letter for Tony Hillerman's The Blessing Way, which launched a nationally bestselling series that ran nearly twenty books long:

"If you insist on rewriting this, get rid of all that Indian stuff."


And this one from a rejection of James M. Cain's The Postman Always Rings Twice, which hasn't been out of print since its original publication in 1934 and was adapted into a major motion picture at least twice:

"I think it is only a matter of time before you reach out into more substantial efforts that will be capable of making some real money as books."


I love that stuff. And I got the same thrill I usually do from Rotten Rejections by reading Michelle Kerns' article The 50 best author vs. author put-downs of all time. Check out these disses, playa:

"An enthusiasm for Poe is the mark of a decidedly primitive stage of reflection." - Henry James


"For in point of style, or manner, or whatever, it is difficult to imagine anything much worse than the prose of Mr. [Ezra] Pound. It is ugliness and awkwardness incarnate. Did he always write so badly?" - Conrad Aiken


"Have you ever heard of anyone who drank while he worked? You're thinking of [William] Faulkner. He does sometimes -- and I can tell right in the middle of a page when he's had his first one." - Ernest Hemingway


"I often want to criticize Jane Austen, but her books madden me so that I can't conceal my frenzy from the reader; and therefore I have to stop every time I begin. Every time I read 'Pride and Prejudice,' I want to dig her up and hit her over the skull with her own shin-bone." - Mark Twain


It kind of makes you wish authors nowadays used more wit and style when laying down the intra-industry smackdowns on message boards and discussion lists, doesn't it?