Saturday, April 26, 2014

David Foster Wallace once asked, quoting, he said, a friend, “Has the son of a bitch ever had one unpublished thought?”

"His papers, deposited at Harvard, include his golf scorecards -- "

-- you are fucking shitting me

("But after reading a chapter or two a shadow seemed to lie across the page. it was a straight dark bar, a shadow shaped something like the letter ‘I’. One began dodging this way and that to catch a glimpse of the landscape behind it. Whether that was indeed a tree or a woman walking I was not quite sure. Back one was always hailed to the letter ‘I’. One began to be tired of ‘I’. Not but what this ‘I’ was a most respectable ‘I’; honest and logical; as hard as a nut, and polished for centuries by good teaching and good feeding. I respect and admire that ‘I’ from the bottom of my heart. But — here I turned a page or two, looking for something or other the worst of it is that in the shadow of the letter ‘I’ all is shapeless as mist. Is that a tree? No, it is a woman. But.. . she has not a bone in her body, I thought, watching Phoebe, for that was her name, coming across the beach. Then Alan got up and the shadow of Alan at once obliterated Phoebe....")

(Also Menand is flat-out damn wrong with "Updike did avoid making Martha explicitly the basis for fictional characters" -- I read the book, and Ruth in the Maples stories is clearly Martha, and Begley himself says she's also the wife in Toward the End of Time, down to the deer-killing. Arguably, when he agreed not to write about Martha or her children, mainly because Martha's first husband threatened him with legal action, he wrote some of his worst stuff that showed his total failure of inventive power: The Coup, Brazil, Terrorist, Gertrude & Claudius, &c &c. -- And "He wanted to rescue serious fiction from what he saw as a doctrinaire rejection of middle-class life," okay fine, and his allies were "Henry Green, Vladimir Nabokov, J. D. Salinger, and Roth" -- SALINGER? Fellow-New-Yorker-writer disappeared-up-his-own-mystical-asshole whose character bitterly complains about psychiatrists "adjusting people to the joys of television, and Life magazine every Wednesday, and European travel" Salinger? That one? And I don't think Nabokov ever wrote about middle-class life, much less rejected it.)

(WTF: Updike "wanted to biopsy a minute sample of the social tissue and reproduce the results in the form of a permanent verbal artifact" like Proust, Joyce, Austen and James -- //THROWS UP HANDS)

(PERMANENT VERBAL ARTIFACT. Fuckit, I'm going to go read Wilkie Collins or something.)