Today, in “Who Gives A Shit?!” On the literary judgments of famous writers.
There’s not much worse in literature than vanity publications. You know what I’m talking about, right? Pseudo-intellectualizing the droppings from aging literary minds in rare volumes in order to learn one more way to say something smart and hip about well-read and long-dead authors. Some authors are wrung for every last drop of essence.
Who was first to think it was a good idea to take all the scraps of a popular writer’s labor and put them in one boring collection after another? We have an Internet for this sort of crap, don’t we? It’s a tradition that needs to stop. Isn’t it at least wasteful?
Who really needs to read another white man’s reflections on reading Flaubert for the first time that are similar but a little different than all the reflections since Flaubert was alive?
There’s a reason these books end up in bargain sections after twenty-four months. Economically speaking, the books are ultimately nothing more than obligations for readers to the authors’ publishers to exchange as much text for value as possible before the authors die, by which I mean cease to write, of course, because every last word they’ve uttered since becoming immortalized in popular literary-culture will be transcribed and published in a new and interesting (boring) collection of musings about life (reading) itself.
And we all know the people who read to fulfill a sense of social and economic obligation are the worst sorts of people. Many of you likely have several friends who are like this—who insist quoting from obscure (but widely published and available for purchase) books about what one of their favorite authors has to say about this or that subject you’ve been stupid enough to express interest in.
“What?! You mean you didn’t read what William Gass had to say about Nietzsche? Well, then you haven’t read Gass at his Gassiest!”
Sniffle, mumble and FUCK OFF! Somedays, Goodreads is the sort of thing that makes me realize people are much more interested in telling me about what they read than actually living the lives they read about in their special books, which is why I get excited about literature in the first place.
I read to enhance life, to learn to think about how I live. I don’t read to tell someone else I’ve been reading the right books. I’m sick of our culture that insists rewarding people for cultural cache. I list anything I’m reading on my virtual bookshelf for me. I like looking at it. I like looking at what my friends read. However, I know a lot of people who only post to their shelves what they think me and their other “friends” will think is unique and quirky.
People really do work had on putting on their faces. And it’s the sort of behavior that makes me work so hard at scraping them off and flinging them to the curb.