Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The English Impatient

Last weekend, the Wall Street Journal devoted a whole page to this writer who died, David Foster Wallace. No kidding, an entire page, turned over to this author I had never heard of before he killed himself last week. They had reprinted a commencement speech he gave at some college a few years ago.

I was careful not to read a word of it. First of all, the reason I would want advice on life from someone who wound up committing suicide is what, you know?

And secondly ... Well, today I am going to get my braces tightened and I have a long, LONG day at work ahead, so what the heck, I am going to be like Leonard Pennario and spout my opinions freely. Here goes: I am really sick of seeing so many stories about writers.

Oh, don't get me wrong. When "Pennario" comes out, believe me, there will be no such thing as too much ink. I will be everywhere, running my mouth, trust me.

But there are so many writers and editors who, all they care about is writing about writers. This has been bugging me forever. They want to write about writers who influenced them and books they love and English teachers who made them what they were. It is so boring! I look at these people and I wonder: Did you ever come out of your English-major classroom and, uh, walk around the block or anything? Is there anything else you are interested in?

I can think of three movies right off the top of my head that Pennario and I saw together where the protagonist was shown constantly sitting at the typewriter.

I am going to start collecting novels in which the hero teaches English at a small community college. You could fill a whole library with those books! There are also those endless dramas starring people like Robin Williams and Michael Douglas that center on New England academia. There is a reason for that.

Just now I saw mention of a book called -- I am not kidding -- "The English Major." That really got me thinking.

Why did I go through all the trouble of risking my job so I could fly to California and spend three months with a brilliant, complicated concert pianist?

When I could have been writing about Clemens Hall?


Anonymous said...

Ah, here it is. I guess you had second thoughts about the word "dozing" which appeared on the original post.

Anonymous said...

Harold Ross, the New Yorker founder, used to instantly reject all submitted pieces about writers by saying that no one was interested in the problems of writers except other writers.