Eugène Ionesco, Victims of Duty
Gone is the rigor of Montaigne. Today’s essayists are yarn-spinners, tall-tale tellers, humorists parading as autobiographers... says as much when he admits to appropriating the life stories of his partner, Hugh: “His stories have, over time, become my own. I say this with no trace of a kumbaya. There is no spiritual symbiosis; I’m just a petty thief who lifts his memories the same way I’ll take a handful of change left on his dresser. When my own experiences fall short of the mark, I just go out and spend some of his.” Memoirs of writers: The Best, Worst, and Most Dysfunctional Romances in Literature
In a word, the serious writer must take serious vows if he is to concentrate on his chief aim. A vow of silence, except through his work. A vow of consistency, sticking with writing to the exclusion of other fields. A vow of ego-chastity, abstaining from adulation. A vow of solitude, or at least long periods of privacy. A vow of self-regard, placing the self as writer before the self as personality. A vow of solitude
A baffling human type is the man or woman with a cerebral appreciation of humor who is incapable of being intentionally funny. I knew a computational mathematician for almost seven years before I recently heard him laugh. It’s a good laugh, too – helpless, open-mouthed, full-bodied – the sort that’s contagious. His torso, shoulders and arms bounced up and down like a marionette’s, and his eyes watered copiously Baffling Human Nature
"Oh words, what crimes are committed in your name!"
-Eugène Ionesco, Jacques or the Submission
An award was given in the UK this week for the book-review hatchet job of the year. It was for Camilla Long’s demolition, in the Sunday Times, of Rachel Cusk’s Aftermath: On Marriage and Separation. Want to read some of it? Of course you do. Hatchet jobs and the art of the good bad review