Bad Writing of the Day

“Panic in Moscow is hard to spot, but even from 6000 miles away, it’s easy to smell, and the metallic stink of fear is rising off the palace offices of the Russian executive as if from the gurneys in a cancer ward on the morning of an operation.”

Tom Nichols, “Why the Russians Are Panicking Over Flight 17,” The Federalist

Quote of the Day

“All real work is hard.  My work happened to be undoable.  Morning after morning for 50 years, I faced the next page defenseless and unprepared.  Writing for me was a feat of self-preservation.  If I did not do it, I would die.  So I did it.  Obstinacy,  not talent, saved my life.  It was also my good luck that happiness didn’t matter to me, and I had no compassion for myself.

Philip Roth

I would say talent and obstinacy.

Quote of the Day

“Again and again we embark within the mind’s eye of Ms. Munro’s narrators, often the character at the heart of the story.  It feel, surprisingly, as if the reader has simply been absorbed in the story’s first person.  We want to know what happens because it seems to be happening to us.”

“A Nobel Prize for Alice Munro,” NYT Editorial

That captures perfectly why I love certain heroines so much, from Natasha Rostov to Fleur Forsyte to Scarlett O’Hara — what happens to them seems to be happening to me.  Now, if I could just write heroines like that.

Quote of the Day 3

Jonah Lehrer, from his book proposal, A Book About Love:

“Careers fall apart; homes fall down; we give away what we don’t want and sell what we can’t afford.  And yet, if we are lucky, such losses reveal what remains.  When we are stripped of what we wanted, we see what we will always need:  those people who love us, even after the fall.”

In 2012, Lehrer lost his job at The New Yorker for fabricating quotes and plagiarizing (from himself!) and had his book ImagineHow Creativity Works recalled by the publisher.  It was a stunning plunge for someone who had enormous success as a young man.


Quote of the Day

“A truly excellent writer, though, pursues her obsessions and allows them to dictate what form her work will take.  That sounds simple, but in fact it is hard for any writer to recognize what those obsessions are, to face them squarely when they are frightening or puzzling, and to shape them into persuasive works of art.”

J. Robert Lennon, reviewing Jamie Quatro’s I Want To Show You More, The New York Times Book Review

Two Types of People

We’ve all heard many iterations of “the world is divided into two types of people” meme.

I would say the world is divided into people who give up and go home when they knock on a door and are turned away, and those who take a deep breath, square their shoulders, and head to the next door.

It’s okay to sit on the doorstep and cry a little or go get a hot fudge sundae before you try the next door, but it’s not okay to go home.

The $3.7 Million Joke

Gawker has posted what they claim is a copy of Lena “Girls” Dunham’s book proposal, the one that got her a $3.7 million advance from Random House.

It reads like a narcissistic and vulgar parody of what you’d expect Dunham’s book proposal to be.  If it’s a parody, the joke’s on Gawker.

But if, as I believe, this is the actual book proposal, the joke is on Random House.  It’s not funny, it’s not interesting, it’s just crap.  Very, very expensive crap.

The sad thing is I’m sure there’s something brilliant buried in the slush pile at Random House tonight that will never bring its overlooked author even $3.70.