Youmans (pronounced like 'yeoman' with an 's' added) is the best-kept secret among contemporary American writers.--John Wilson, editor, Books and Culture.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Warning to the writers, that they not be BIG-HEADED

Pride goeth before a you-know-what...
Out of the mouths of babes...


While shoveling out (with very large shovels) my writing room--a sort of dried-out bog of paper with occasional bog bodies in the form of mummified insects--I found three pages of talk from my youngest child, recorded just after he turned five. I'd inserted the long stream of chatter into a letter to my parents, far away.

It's mostly monologue, with a stray question here and there. The burblings cover lots of interesting ground: the differences between girls and boys, what a mama and a dada are good for, how to make an ill person feel happy (give him a toy gun, a pretty cake, a pretty little boy) , and so on.

Here's one of my favorite bits. It works well as advice for writers:

N: "A long story. It was a good story. It really was. Here comes Cockpit Man...

"Am I a genius? Am I a genius? Am I? Am I?

"I don't know. Am I a genius?

"What's a genius, what's a genius, what's a genius, what's a genius?"

M: "A really, really smart person. Do you think you are one?"

N: "Yeah, a genius. I am.

"Ow, ow, ow. I just clipped my finger. With Zurg. Ow, ow. It hurt me real bad. Do you know how I hurt myself? With this. With his arm. That thing's real sharp."

A pause.

N: "That stupid genius!"

***

Later: I wrote that post before I remembered our annual "genius" hoopla: today Jonathan Lethem won a MacArthur. If I had expected anything, it would have been a name more obscure--Cinder Ash of Ramsine, Arkansas, or some such--a patient toiler magically uprooted from jobs and duties and set down on five sacks of gold. But I suppose that even a prince is not displeased with five sacks of gold and a dandy new crown and confetti and champagne all around!

2 comments:

  1. Hey, you have a corking blog here! I will definitely visit your site again ! I have a statin drugs site. It virtually embraces all that equates to statin drugs issues. If you possess the chance, kindly come and check it out.

    ReplyDelete
  2. marly, slightly grumpy--9:33 AM, September 21, 2005

    The above note is a wry continuation of the post title, I note...

    What I want to know is whether you statin drug and algaecides floggers & bloggers feel a kinship with books.

    I mean, look here; we writers use drugs (no, I mean the kind I get with a scrip at the CVS, in a homely little building wholly inappropriate to the Village of Cooperstown), and we'd like to use algaecides only we have no swimming pools.

    So are you just flitting by and thumbing your noses at the writers? Or are you poring over our books in between bouts of flogging statin drugs?

    'Fess up.

    I mean it. Or I won't buy any algaecides when I get my swimming pool.

    ReplyDelete

Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.