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

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Lovelessness and words

This morning I was thinking about writers and anger. In particular, I was thinking about a writer whose involvement in political causes has gone far to ruin her reputation as a thinker. Yet her books do well and suggest that what is called a push early in the publishing career is more important in finding readers than one's ideas.

I remember seeing her speak when I was around 20, and being astonished by a story she read, one that felt so loveless and racist (in the guise of being empowering to women and anti-racist) that she lost my sympathy for any virtues in the story. She was already quite famous, a sort of second-tier celebrity, and most of the people I knew at the reading rushed up to congratulate her, a fact that seemed to me a strong instance of irony.

The effect of the reading lingered with me a long time, and I can say that if I did not know such a thing already, it must have been a warning on denying understanding and love to a created character. Of course, I was a poet then, with no thought of wading into the waters where novelists sink or swim.

3 comments:

  1. P. S. Must agree with one private message that more than one could fit this description!

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  2. Ideology can certainly constrain thought. Well, when it is fiercely dogmatic, anyway... as political and religious ideologies can be. It's a shame to shackle oneself like that.

    No, Marly - you do not do that! I think it's the breadth of compassion and open ness to different ideas and ways of looking at life that flows from your mind into your poetry and story-telling that stops you from ever finding yourself in a corner guarding against different ways of looking at life. 'Breadth' of compassion - if that makes any sense.

    I'm rambling, aren't I? Oh well..... : )

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  3. Good morning, Paul--

    I fell asleep early after a very long walk--this walking business is changing my night owl habits! Must be the fresh air because my indoor exercise didn't seem to make a difference.

    I suppose it's hard to be intolerant of anybody when one is dragged from state to state as a child... One meets so many different kinds of people and is frequently seen as the utterly Other, with weird speech, appearance, beliefs, etc. I hated moving, leaving my friends and places, but maybe it had that one good side.

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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.