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God I LOVED this post-- i came in to comment about the Hobbes/Leviathan/Survovor connection but instead got swooped up into your most wonderful rumination---

I NEVER want to know the personal history of writers I like-- it always, inevitably ruins things for me.


Not that I have the time anymore anyway, but I avoid revisiting my favorite works now -- too painful. Likewise I don't recommend books I once loved -- too much risk of others thinking (finding out?) that I'm an idiot.

I was trained when Deconstruction was still the rage, and I used to hate Terry Gross because all she ever wanted to talk about was how an author's work related to real life, and the authors always got pissy and kept repeating variations of "well, some of the characters are a composite of people I've known, but it's FICTION," but now I want to know too. I can't articulate why, but it matters.

What DO you do with the children's books you find awful? Throw them out? Make up your own words?


Elizabeth--There is another problem. Sometimes the biographer hates the writer. There are some really mean biographies of Silvia Plath out there. Tolstoy's been savaged. As has Graham Greene. The last biography I ever let myself read was one of Robert Lowell and he doesn't come across as too attractive. Now, I regret reading that tripe and I've just decided to ignore it all.

DoctorMama--Oh me too with the deconstruction 'What Is An Author?' stuff. I think Terry Gross does that touchy feely thing to all her guests because she might not have had time to read the books. She always asks them how they felt about everything! NPR is another source of blather that has fallen by the wayside.

I should try making up my own words to the books I find awful! I kind of think this is just the beginning (Elmo) of things she loves that I am not thrilled about so I have to practice not being a pill. I want to be the fun mom, y'know! (I'm joking because I know that will never work.)


Have you ever heard that song "Why are all our heroes so imperfect?"

I love Chekov as well. In fact, I was going to recommend that in the absence of DVDs of people reading, that you rent a copy of "Vanya on 42nd Street", which might be the next best thing.

I don't know... I've always found his female characters to be written with great sympathy (though I'm only familiar with his plays...)

grudge girl

Heh. I clearly remember the first time I read Raymond Carver, and during the class the professor was droning on about something or other so I was reading another story surreptitiously and accidentally laughed out loud with delight at some perfectly perfect sentence. And the whole class turned to face me, and the professor made me reveal to everyone what had delighted me, and no one got it. Not even the professor. It was like a special joke just between me and Ray.

I haven't read him in a great while, and now I'm kind of afraid to, because I'll be thinking about this post. What if my feelings have changed, now that I'm all grown up?

Hey--does the flip side of what you're sorting through here also prove true? If you find out something fantastic about an author you previously didn't care for, will you now read that person's work with a different eye/ear, and will you be more likely to like it?

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