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Something about bells, balls and bulls
June 20, 2011 11:33 AM   Subscribe

Your favorite author sucks. (According your another of your favorite authors.)
posted by CheeseDigestsAll (96 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite

 
NSFW: Author-on-author action.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 11:37 AM on June 20, 2011


It's true. My favorite author does suck.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:38 AM on June 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Awesome:

9. Truman Capote on Jack Kerouac: "That’s not writing, that’s typing."
posted by bewilderbeast at 11:39 AM on June 20, 2011 [5 favorites]


(I was making a joke about the article's title, BTW.)
posted by ZenMasterThis at 11:39 AM on June 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


“…like a large shaggy dog just unchained scouring the beaches of the world and baying at the moon.”

I think Walt Whitman would've been tickled by that.
posted by cmyk at 11:41 AM on June 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


The top 5 make it worth clicking through the whole thing:

"Every time I read ‘Pride and Prejudice,’ I want to dig her up and hit her over the skull with her own shin-bone.”
posted by auto-correct at 11:42 AM on June 20, 2011 [9 favorites]


Clearly the Western Literary canon should be defined not as those authors other authors talk about, but rather as the authors other authors talk shit about.
posted by 2bucksplus at 11:42 AM on June 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


So far all the "insults" are accurate upsidedown compliments.

“[Ulysses is] the work of a queasy undergraduate scratching his pimples.”

True and yet so so nearsighted (like Joyce haha).

"Clearly the Western Literary canon should be defined not as those authors other authors talk about, but rather as the authors other authors talk shit about."

Exactly. If it's worth hating it's probably doing something interesting.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:45 AM on June 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


“…like a large shaggy dog just unchained scouring the beaches of the world and baying at the moon.”

I think Walt Whitman would've been tickled by that.


Exactly -- the thing I love about the best of these quotes is that I completely agree with some of them, even when they are about authors I like.

And I personally agree that James Joyce is usually "[n]othing but old fags and cabbage stumps of quotations from the Bible and the rest stewed in the juice of deliberate, journalistic dirty-mindedness.” But that doesn't make him any less awesome.

(And don't even get me started on the beautiful bitchiness that is Gore Vidal on Capote or Wilde on Pope.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:45 AM on June 20, 2011


From the comments, Mary McCarthy on Lillian Hellman: “Every word she writes is a lie, including the ands and the thes.”
posted by Zozo at 11:46 AM on June 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


Errrr.... did we kill the site? Flavorwire is giving an "Error establishing a database connection" at both this link and their main site.
posted by zarq at 11:47 AM on June 20, 2011


Darn, link already broken.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:47 AM on June 20, 2011


Maybe it'll come back up in a couple of minutes....
posted by zarq at 11:49 AM on June 20, 2011


METAFILTER'D
posted by dismas at 11:50 AM on June 20, 2011


"Yes, madam, but in the morning I will be sober and you will still be ugly. Also, your webmaster thought he was clever enough to divide the content up between five pages to maximize the pageviews, but failed to factor in the extra server load to do so. Idiot."
posted by Curious Artificer at 11:52 AM on June 20, 2011 [28 favorites]


Metafilter: a large shaggy dog baying at the moon.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 11:53 AM on June 20, 2011


Your favorite database software sucks.
posted by nzero at 11:53 AM on June 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Learn to use caching people!

So what was the gist? Who said who sucked and why?
posted by cjorgensen at 11:53 AM on June 20, 2011


My favorite quote about Jacqueline Susann was that she "typed on a cash register."

I have tried to live up to her example every day of my life.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:57 AM on June 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Who said who sucked and why ?


In order, my guesses are:

A. Just about everyone

B. Kurt Vonnegut

C. Do you really need to ask ?
posted by y2karl at 12:01 PM on June 20, 2011


More insults.
posted by chavenet at 12:05 PM on June 20, 2011


I can only assume Mark Twain on James Fenimore Cooper was #1. Cause otherwise the list sucks.
posted by kmz at 12:05 PM on June 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Here are 1-5

5. Evelyn Waugh on Marcel Proust (1948)

“I am reading Proust for the first time. Very poor stuff. I think he was mentally defective.”

4. Mark Twain on Jane Austen (1898)

“I haven’t any right to criticize books, and I don’t do it except when I hate them. I often want to criticize Jane Austen, but her books madden me so that I can’t conceal my frenzy from the reader; and therefore I have to stop every time I begin. Every time I read ‘Pride and Prejudice,’ I want to dig her up and hit her over the skull with her own shin-bone.”

3. Virginia Woolf on James Joyce

“[Ulysses is] the work of a queasy undergraduate scratching his pimples.”

2. William Faulkner on Mark Twain (1922)

“A hack writer who would not have been considered fourth rate in Europe, who tricked out a few of the old proven sure fire literary skeletons with sufficient local color to intrigue the superficial and the lazy.”

1. D.H. Lawrence on James Joyce (1928)

“My God, what a clumsy olla putrida James Joyce is! Nothing but old fags and cabbage stumps of quotations from the Bible and the rest stewed in the juice of deliberate, journalistic dirty-mindedness.”
posted by seventyfour at 12:06 PM on June 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Here is the content, "archived" by a 3rd party site.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:06 PM on June 20, 2011


Thank god when the internet goes, we'll still have print books to sustain us with catty authorial infighting.

Poisoned Pens: Literary Invective from Amis to Zola
posted by nicebookrack at 12:07 PM on June 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Virginia Woolf also said that it was hard for her to write knowing James Joyce was out there working on his next book. Of course, he was writing Finnegans Wake so her hand-wringing was over nothing.
posted by milarepa at 12:11 PM on June 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is informative. I would like to subscribe to your news-

504 GATEWAY ERROR
posted by clvrmnky at 12:11 PM on June 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


But as long as the internet is working and Google is around, we'll have digital copies for handy perusal.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:12 PM on June 20, 2011


What a huge waste of words all these insults are. I suppose they all loved their own work.
posted by clockzero at 12:13 PM on June 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


23. H. G. Wells on George Bernard Shaw
“An idiot child screaming in a hospital.”


Does this make sense to anyone? I think he wrote that for something else. Perhaps a book about a troubled child in a hospital. Maybe?
posted by NoMich at 12:18 PM on June 20, 2011


It's lacking ultra-quotable, insulting little nuggets like the ones in the list, but this takedown of Ian McEwan's Solar by Walter Kirn is one of my favorites.
posted by eugenen at 12:24 PM on June 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Love the Faulkner / Hemmingway exchange.

And since my favorite Faulker is far and away As I Lay Dying, I'm gonna side with Hemmingway.
posted by nathancaswell at 12:31 PM on June 20, 2011


The top 5 make it worth clicking through the whole thing:

Except the winner is #12

Oscar Wilde on Alexander Pope - “There are two ways of disliking poetry; one way is to dislike it, the other is to read Pope.”
posted by philip-random at 12:31 PM on June 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


Bah, stopped to comment on page #4, now #5 and #6 won't load. We killed it.
posted by nathancaswell at 12:33 PM on June 20, 2011


"This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force."

Dorothy Parker on Benito Mussolini's The Cardinal's Mistress.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:33 PM on June 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


NoMich: the website bungles the Wells quote by leaving most of it out. Re-quoting from Poisoned Pens above, here you go:
H.G. Wells (1866-1946) on George Bernard Shaw
"One of those perpetual children who live in a dream world of make-believe [...]. It is almost as if there was no pain in the world. It is under the inspiration of such delightful dreams that Mr. Shaw now flings himself upon his typewriter and rattles out his broadsides. And nothing will stop him. All through the war we shall have this Shavian accompaniment going on, like an idiot child screaming in a hospital, distorting, discredting, confusing. He is at present ... an almost unendurable nuisance."
The Daily Chronicle, 31 December 1914
Plus this editorial footnote: "Shaw opposed the First World War in Common Sense about the War (1914); and Wells, who felt it necessary to continue the war, opposed Shaw."


print 1, interwebs 0
posted by nicebookrack at 12:34 PM on June 20, 2011


ǝɯıʇ ɹno uı ƃuılloɹƃol
posted by dhartung at 12:42 PM on June 20, 2011


1. authors use other authors to show how cleverly they can make nasty but clever comments\
2. many of the 'critics" are critical because the writers they piss on write stuff that is opposite the kind of writing they do, ex: Hemingway on Faulker. My view: both are good but also different.
posted by Postroad at 12:51 PM on June 20, 2011


Awesome:
9. Truman Capote on Jack Kerouac: "That’s not writing, that’s typing."


The context adds more awesome. Capote and Norman Mailer were on the David Susskind show, a show themed on "the new writers," or some such. Mailer was loaded for bear, trying to come off as the towering literary giant. Capote's lisped comment didn't even catch his attention, and leaving the studio Mailer felt he had "won" the interview.

But the next day, all the reaction focused on Capote's off-the-cuff quip. Mailer was said to be quite vexed by this.
posted by StickyCarpet at 12:52 PM on June 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


That's nothing, you should see what V.S. Naipaul thinks of Virginia Woolf...
posted by Renoroc at 12:54 PM on June 20, 2011


Naipaul's opinion on women writers does not rise to even the lowest level of what one can call thought.
posted by clockzero at 12:55 PM on June 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


But the next day, all the reaction focused on Capote's off-the-cuff quip. Mailer was said to be quite vexed by this.

Did you catch the Colbert interview with Kissinger? I nearly fell over when Colbert started talking about Kissinger's trip to China.
"How do you talk to a guy like Mao? Because, he's responsible for the deaths of millions of people. Do you put that aside when you talk to him? Do you bring it up? Do you address it?"
No reaction from Kissinger.
posted by notion at 1:00 PM on June 20, 2011 [10 favorites]


Great artists (and crappy websites) don't borrow, they steal.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 1:04 PM on June 20, 2011


Emerson on Austen:
Never was life so pinched and narrow.

Sir, that was the point.
posted by litnerd at 1:08 PM on June 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Harold Bloom? Really? He's less an author than a egotistical art critic with a penchant for flowery language, best described in a MeFi thread as "a jealous windbag who needs to climb out of Shakespeare's decaying ass."
posted by zombieflanders at 1:13 PM on June 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


15. William Faulkner on Ernest Hemingway
“He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary.”

14. Ernest Hemingway on William Faulkner
“Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words?”

Haha, ZING!
posted by zephyr_words at 1:14 PM on June 20, 2011 [8 favorites]


Also, I think Hemingway definitely won that argument.

The fact that I can't stand Faulkner has absolutely nothing to do with my opinion. Not at all.
posted by litnerd at 1:16 PM on June 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Your manuscript is both good and original, but the part that is good is not original and the part that is original is not good.
Samuel Johnson, (attributed)
posted by Orange Pamplemousse at 1:19 PM on June 20, 2011


Wilde on Pope and Capote on Kerouac are amazing.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:21 PM on June 20, 2011


10. Henry James on Edgar Allan Poe (1876)

“An enthusiasm for Poe is the mark of a decidedly primitive stage of reflection.”


I've sometimes suspected the glee some French philosophers have for Poe has much to do with the fact they didn't read him in English, and that he was very well translated.

Also Evelyn Waugh is clearly an idiot.
posted by rudster at 1:21 PM on June 20, 2011


Emerson on Austen: The one problem in the mind of the writer . . . is marriageableness.

Isn't that sort of like slagging off Dracula for its ridiculous obsession with vampires?
posted by Naberius at 1:22 PM on June 20, 2011 [7 favorites]


“An enthusiasm for Poe is the mark of a decidedly primitive stage of reflection.”

Ook.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:29 PM on June 20, 2011


Wilde on Pope and Capote on Kerouac are amazing.

Wilde and Capote on just about anything are amazing.
posted by blucevalo at 1:36 PM on June 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


My dad is constantly retelling the one where Norman Mailer punched Gore Vidal at a party, and when someone asked what happened, Vidal said "Words failed Norman - as usual."

Good stuff, a few I hadn't heard. And that Twain-Cooper piece is great, kmz, where was it originally published? I can't remember which of the magazines Twain wrote for, and am (I say) too busy too Google at the moment. TBTG.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 1:40 PM on June 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've sometimes suspected the glee some French philosophers have for Poe has much to do with the fact they didn't read him in English, and that he was very well translated.

I've sometimes suspected that James is about as overrated as Poe is underestimated.
posted by blucevalo at 1:41 PM on June 20, 2011


I loved this so much that I had forwarded it to my friends before I even finished reading it. It especially tickles me because I enjoy almost all of these authors.
posted by chatongriffes at 1:52 PM on June 20, 2011


Man, this is awesome! Like grad school all over again!

One of my professors said that Ted Kooser's Poetry Home Repair Manual was "too simplistic for a beginning poet of any intelligence." Another commented that it was cute when writers use ampersands and get "a bit typographical." And so on. And so forth.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:55 PM on June 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


"29. Robert Louis Stevenson on Walt Whitman

“…like a large shaggy dog just unchained scouring the beaches of the world and baying at the moon.”"


To be fair, this is also a fairly accurate description of Lipstick Thespian.
posted by Eideteker at 1:59 PM on June 20, 2011


2. many of the 'critics" are critical because the writers they piss on write stuff that is opposite the kind of writing they do ...

Yeah, this rings true for me. I mean, if you weren't into reading about marriagability, why the hell would you read Pride and Prejudice? Why criticize Jane Austin for being Jane Austin?
posted by Afroblanco at 2:13 PM on June 20, 2011


Shame they missed out Chandler view of Mickey Spillane, whom he described as a "writing gorilla". Even if you enjoy the occasional Spillane, you've got to admit this is pretty damned accurate.
posted by howfar at 2:26 PM on June 20, 2011


Nabokov appears to have hated everyone. Except, presumably, Nabokov.
posted by Justinian at 3:00 PM on June 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yes, I thought it was funny how Nabokov was so critical, yet did anyone even bother to mention his work?
posted by Surfurrus at 3:11 PM on June 20, 2011


Nabokov appears to have hated everyone. Except, presumably, Nabokov.

Nope. He liked Flaubert, Tolstoy, Proust, Austen, Dickens, Joyce and Stevenson, as can be seen from his Cornell lectures. Hated Dovstoyesky, Pasternak, Thomas Mann, and above all, Frued.
posted by Diablevert at 3:17 PM on June 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Mentioned upthread:

Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses

And Twain on Walter Scott

Not really many quotable lines, but taken together, they're devastating.
posted by Grimgrin at 3:40 PM on June 20, 2011


Some of these are deliberately misquoted, or quoted out of context, to make them seem snappier than they actually are. Virginia Woolf did not describe Ulysses as 'the work of a queasy undergraduate scratching his pimples', she wrote that she was 'amused, stimulated, charmed, interested by the first 2 or 3 chapters .. and then puzzled, bored, irritated and disillusioned as by a queasy undergraduate scratching his pimples'. The longer version is more interesting (and actually more devastating as a verdict on the novel), but won't be appreciated by people who like to think that the literary life is all about writers flicking witty put-downs at each other.
posted by verstegan at 3:44 PM on June 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


The Woolf quote is specifically about the Aolius chapter from Ulysses, which she is contrasting unfavorably with the preceding Hades.
posted by moorooka at 3:46 PM on June 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


No doubt it was Capote's most memorable twitting, (and the best Vidal could do was "“He’s a full-fledged housewife from Kansas with all the prejudices”? Please.), but for more arm chair crankery from the little man, see Conversations With Capote, where he gets at least a little more in depth about who he likes, dislikes, and why. (The google book preview excises that chapter, but the book is worth tracking down.)
posted by IndigoJones at 4:01 PM on June 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure which I am enjoying more, the author on author insults or the MeFites who feel the need to defend these authors.
posted by IvoShandor at 4:03 PM on June 20, 2011


Developing her theme, Woolf subsequently wrote of Ulysses (or at least, as much of it as she had read) "Never did I read such tosh. As for the first 2 chapters we will let them pass, but the 3rd 4th 5th 6th--merely the scratching of pimples on the body of the bootboy at Claridges".
posted by MUD at 4:03 PM on June 20, 2011


Did I just see an Amis - not even the Kingsley version - have a crack at Cervantes?
posted by tumid dahlia at 4:06 PM on June 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, moar literary smackdowns please, they make me very happy. My favourite.
posted by tumid dahlia at 4:10 PM on June 20, 2011


Also, I think Hemingway definitely won that argument.

Please. I never bothered with Faulkner but the only big emotion I got from Hemingway was the same emotion I get when I am at a terrible gathering and know I can leave whenever I want to. It's scandalous how good I felt about closing For Whom The Bell Tolls.
posted by tumid dahlia at 4:14 PM on June 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Okay tumid dahlia, how about this:

Also, I think Hemingway definitely won that argument. Which is a shame, really, because otherwise he was a douchebag and a lousy writer.
posted by Naberius at 4:30 PM on June 20, 2011


:D
posted by tumid dahlia at 4:35 PM on June 20, 2011


It boggles my mind that anyone could want For Whom The Bell Tolls to end. The Sun Also Rises, however...
posted by nathancaswell at 4:42 PM on June 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Related : 10 Literary Smack-Downs, Quips, and Squabbles
posted by Afroblanco at 4:49 PM on June 20, 2011


For Hemingway's argument to work (and it does), he doesn't have to be the better writer; his words don't have to be the ones evoking big emotion, though I surely think he believed they did. The point remains that sending the reader to the dictionary is not the hallmark of a masterful work of literature.
posted by litnerd at 4:56 PM on June 20, 2011


Jeez. These writer types are just as catty as a bunch of sorority girls, aren't they?
posted by jonmc at 5:15 PM on June 20, 2011


Jeez. These writer types are just as catty as a bunch of sorority girls, aren't they?

Indeed. Why should that be, I wonder?
posted by IndigoJones at 5:21 PM on June 20, 2011


Because, once you rip the veil of education, 'civility' and whatever else aside, people are pretty much catty douchebags.
posted by jonmc at 5:26 PM on June 20, 2011


According to James Michener, the Capote-on-Kerouac zinger was even better before the world misremembered it.
posted by Superfrankenstein at 5:30 PM on June 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


Edinburgh professor of linguistics Geoffrey Pullum, on Dan Brown: "Renowned author Dan Brown staggered through his formulaic opening sentence".
posted by bwg at 5:41 PM on June 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


bwg, this is meant to be a thread about writers, but if we're mocking Dan Brown then this Stewart Lee clip deserves inclusion.
posted by howfar at 5:53 PM on June 20, 2011


how did Dickens escape this list? i ask thee. boldly. with nostrils flaring.
posted by preferred nomenclature at 5:56 PM on June 20, 2011


Renowned author Dan Brown staggered through his formulaic opening sentence... and what he found at the end of the chapter shocked him to his very core.
posted by nathancaswell at 6:07 PM on June 20, 2011 [7 favorites]


Tangentially awesome:
George Bernard Shaw once sent two tickets to the opening night of one of his plays to Winston Churchill with the following note:
Bring a friend, if you have one.

Churchill wrote back, returning the two tickets and excused himself as he had a previous engagement. He also attached the following:
Please send me two tickets for the next night, if there is one.
posted by Mister_A at 6:35 PM on June 20, 2011 [5 favorites]


Plus this editorial footnote: "Shaw opposed the First World War in Common Sense about the War (1914); and Wells, who felt it necessary to continue the war, opposed Shaw."

It is important to understand this in context with Wells' falling-out with the Fabian Society and the Webbs. The power struggle Wells had with the Webbs led to his quitting the Fabian Society in 1908 and altered many of his previous opinions. His commitment to the war effort didn't happen in a vacuum.

/nerd
posted by winna at 7:59 PM on June 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


nathancaswell, this is going to keep me chuckling all day.
posted by taz at 11:10 PM on June 20, 2011


It's missing my favourite. In a letter to Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams described the poetry of TS Eliot as being 'vaginal stoppage and gleet'.[cite]
posted by Cantdosleepy at 2:23 AM on June 21, 2011


I've never read Bloom, but I sure do agree with him about J.K. Rowling. Also I love how Nabokov hates everyone.
posted by Mooseli at 3:47 AM on June 21, 2011


What's this about Robert Browning being a pedophile? I'm pretty sure I read an SF story once about a father raping the pets of the children (which were spaceweasels) and then the afterward said something about it being based on the Elizabeth Barrett Browning and her dog and I was all...wha? (I hope the actual story bears some passing likeness to what I just described...)
posted by DU at 7:56 AM on June 21, 2011


"I am sitting in the smallest room of my house. I have your review before me. In a moment it will be behind me."
- Max Reger
posted by wenestvedt at 10:22 AM on June 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hemingway on Wyndham Lewis: “He has the eyes of an unsuccessful rapist."

Oh, how I laughed at this.
posted by smithsmith at 2:13 PM on June 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


“An enthusiasm for Poe is the mark of a decidedly primitive stage of reflection.”

This strikes me as true. Its something you read when you're young.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 11:01 PM on June 21, 2011


Zing! some bruised ego dishing out some rather hilarious lines.
posted by adamorgana at 2:00 AM on June 22, 2011


Also I love how Nabokov hates everyone.

Conversely, the problem with Nabokov is how many people adore him. Which leads to emulation. Which is a bad thing. Generally I hear a writer say they find him a big influence, my guard goes way up.
posted by IndigoJones at 5:19 PM on June 26, 2011


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