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To the bottom of every word

Saturday 12/10/22

Imagine if a fat sixty-seven-year-old white guy wrote exactly what Amanda Gorman writes and Amanda Gorman didn't exist. It'd probably work out for him, right? He'd probably be reading at the same events, right? He'd probably have lots of profiles written about him, right? That's what you're supposed to pretend, isn't it? Or, wait, what? The work has nothing to do with anything and it's entirely about other things? You don't say? Huh.


The work does have something to do with things though. The better the work, the harder it is to get anywhere. The better the work is, the more the work works against you in this current publishing climate.


I fixed parts of the op-ed on Miracle on 34th Street that I'd written some time back. If someone who was supported wrote it--by that I mean someone platformed, feted, stroked, etc.--and it got out there, it would go viral. Everyone should read this piece. But I can say that a lot, can't I? That has nothing to do with anything.


I also created a longer version of the piece, so that there are now two, for the reasons I detailed on here recently. I've sent one or the other to a half dozen people.


Kanye West had an honorary degree rescinded by some university. He never should have had an honorary degree in the first place. Nobody should. Most people already have honorary lives, in which things are simply given to them. Not because they've earned those things. Every single other author in publishing--those that have been platformed--have an honorary life and an honorary career. It's the hand-out model to success.


Nothing should be handed out for reasons that have nothing to do with performance. Every single thing should be earned. Unless we are talking about the destitute. Then there is that thing we call charity.


One's career should not be charity for the connected, blue-blooded, empty, lazy, and unimaginative. But having one's dreadful, meaningless fiction slopped into The New Yorker is a form of charity for the privileged and talentless.


If it's not earned, it shouldn't happen, you shouldn't have gotten it, you shouldn't have it. Earn. What a concept, no?


In It's a Wonderful Life, Clarence is said to have the brains of a rabbit, but the faith of a child. He's reading The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. I would posit that no angel, with or without wings, nor any person, who reads Tom Sawyer and has faith, lacks for mental acuity.


Twain used the definite article for Tom Sawyer (The Adventures of Tom Sawyer) but not Huckleberry Finn (Adventures of Huckleberry Finn).


Al Michaels has become boorish. Because many people are boorish themselves, they like this.


Josh McDaniels looks like a coach who will be relieved of his duties soon. You have to, right? For whatever reason, he's not a head coach.


As I wrote here, the Bruins have a Jeremy Swayman problem. Last night the Bruins outshot the Coyotes 46-16 and lost 4-3. That means their goalie was very good and yours was very bad. Swayman was in net for the Bruins and registered a .750 save percentage. It's apparent what must happen: he needs to be sent to the AHL, Kincaid should come back up. Let Swayman work on his game there playing regularly. Harder to fix at the NHL level playing less than half the time. He causes losses right now. These Bruins need two things in my view: a third defenseman and a back-up goalie. Those are the weaknesses I see.


William Sloane makes brilliant use of Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tales in To Walk the Night. A collection of those Andersen fairy tales plays a key role. So well done. It's odd that Sloane had one amazing work in him, a second book that is pretty good, and a short story--just one--that's not strong at all.


When you read a good writer, you must read all the way through. I don't mean to the end in this instance. I mean to the bottom of every word, clause, sentence. When we read, we have a tendency to jerk back when we think we know what has been expressed.


But you must see it through--see it all the way through to the bottom. There is probably more being expressed--with precision--than what we generally, more vaguely think. I'll put it another way: a great writer might be saying, for example, three things at once (or many more). Our tendency is to get one thing and go, like there could be nothing else. You have to stay for all three. See through to the bottom for all three.



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