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

Friday, March 07, 2014

"Sing whatever is well made"

Courtesy of sxc.hu and Lieven Volckaert of Belgium.
I found this in my blogger drafts folder--I wonder, what book was it that inspired this little rant? I must have thought it was too over the top to publish. Or perhaps I thought it would hurt somebody's feelings. I can be a downright wimp, as I am a kindly soul and also a Southerner brought up to be awash in empathy and guilt. I suppose it can't hurt anybody's feelings now that I've forgotten the book, so I can be as wimpy as I like. Well, here it is . . . Nothing like a bit of scalding rant!

* * *

Have you ever picked up a bestselling book so very dreadful in its derivative story and incoherent, tin-eared writing that it cleaves your heart to think that such things are our native culture, and what masses of people run after like the unfortunate, cute, suicidal, cliff-mad lemmings in Disney's 1950's White Wilderness? Just now I accidentally tripped and fell into such a book, and for about fifteen minutes I was in how long, O Lord, how long mode, caught up in Swift's savage indignation and unable to accept the ways of a world that shines up dross to be slick gold and ignores the well-made in favor of the "All out of shape from toe to top" (Yeats, "Under Ben Bulben").

Actually I felt more dramatic than that--more like a maddened-by-frustration Ignác Fülöp Semmelweis, who tried to teach nineteenth-century doctors that handwashing could save many women from childbed fever mortality, but who was ignored and committed to an asylum, where he died two weeks later after being professionally beaten by the guards. There's an epic comparison for you!

That's all.

Better.

Downright full of calm acceptance and irrational hope for the future of the world and its arts and letters...

4 comments:

  1. A badly written novel is like eating a cake made out of cardboard, but iced.

    I love the 'tin-eared writing' thing!

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    Replies
    1. That's a good comparison! Of course, some people only like to eat the icing, so maybe that's why badly-written novels can be so popular.

      Lots of tin-eared writers around. The problem is that if you have a tin ear, you can't tell...

      Delete
  2. A wonderfully written rant is a thing of beauty :-)

    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.