Join 3,363 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


The Genial, Unprolific Fran Lebowitz
April 14, 2003 6:42 PM   Subscribe

The Funniest Writer Not Writing Today...or yesterday, or last year, or even for ages, has to be Fran Lebowitz. So it was quite refreshing to find this little website devoted to her scant and miserly online presence. The latest publication featuring her name is, in fact, the menu of the newly-opened Café Lebowitz in Manhattan's Nolita. Well, the author of the two masterpieces of wit, Social Studies and Metropolitan Life, recently anthologized in The Fran Lebowitz Reader, always warned us she was pathologically lazy... But the old, occasional, lazy (but always witty) interview or odd, random quotation is no compensation. I think she's up there with S. J. Perelman. Robert Benchley or Dorothy Parker. If only she'd actually do some work! Are there any other wilfully and chronically unproductive writer you miss terribly and would force out of retirement if you could?
posted by MiguelCardoso (16 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Btw, the investment banker in me tells me that those Café Lebowitz Zippo lighters that Brian McNally had engraved to honour his friend Fran and celebrate what was to be a typically smokey Parisian bistro, all of which had to be "retired" because of the ban on smoking, will be worth quite a bit in a few years' time.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 7:01 PM on April 14, 2003


Is answering your question with Harper Lee too cliche?
posted by herc at 7:05 PM on April 14, 2003


Douglas Ad... oh, wait.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 8:03 PM on April 14, 2003


I love, love, love Calvin Trillin's writing. He's prolific enough -- but I do wish he'd quit stealing from himself. (Longtime Trillinistas like me keep noticing recurrent jokes.)

And, of course, there are writers who just write too damn slowly for my tastes. (Neal Stephenson, Tracy Kidder, Tibor Fischer, John Lanchester, et al.)
posted by Vidiot at 8:06 PM on April 14, 2003


Lebowitz has an interesting new career as an actor--she's appeared several times in a recurring cameo role as a judge on the "Law and Order" television programs.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:43 PM on April 14, 2003


Are there any other wilfully and chronically unproductive writer you miss terribly and would force out of retirement if you could?

Me.
posted by wobh at 9:17 PM on April 14, 2003


Fran has some things to say about New York.

Also, I've eaten, and smoked (shhhh), in Café Lebowitz-- a fine (new) old school joint.
posted by gwint at 9:43 PM on April 14, 2003


*envies gwint enormously*

Here's what she has to say about New York and not writing. It's from David Savage's interview for Index.com. I should "preamble" that a lot of us had actually believed her when she kept promising her first novel, to be called Exterior Signs of Wealth, would be published before the end of the Millenium:

DAVID: Is New York too distracting for you as a writer?

FRAN: Distracting makes it sound like tempting. New York holds no temptation for me any longer. I'd be out of here like a shot if I were not owned by my apartment. But it is incredibly hard to work here because it's distracting in a non-tempting sense, by which I mean that it is noisy, it is problematic in the tempo of life, it is antithetical to the tempo of writing, which is slow and contemplative. If you're a fast writer it's still slower than life in New York. I don't think New York is any longer a place to make things. I think it's just a place to sell them. It used to be a place to make things because life was, in some sense, inspiring — stimulating would be a better word. Maybe if you're 20 and you just recently moved here from Omaha. But I haven't and it's not.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 10:07 PM on April 14, 2003


I treasure like an ardent fanboy the copies of Social Studies and Metropolitan Life, both of them signed by La Lebowitz, that I was given one Christmas by a friend who was also a friend of Herself. My friend had related to her that I been too afraid when I'd been introduced to her at a social function to make anything more than the politest of non-conversation, content to merely eavesdrop on her more sophisticated conversation with others (gimme a break, I was very young).

"How intuitive of you to be afraid of me," she wrote on the flyleaf of Social Studies. "If only I could instill such fear in your elders, I would consider my life's work complete. Yours, Fran L."
posted by JollyWanker at 10:33 PM on April 14, 2003


Great story, JollyWanker! This story of a book signing, from the dollarshort.org blog, is not as good but still worth reading:

When I got to the front of the line, Lebowitz dryly (is there any other word that I could use?) quipped:

"Where did you get this? You're not old enough to have this book."

posted by MiguelCardoso at 10:41 PM on April 14, 2003


I'm sorry I seem to be unable to stop rabbiting on in this thread, but this QuickTime clip about growing up and wise is unmissable. For me, she's the voice of modern, contrary, take-no-bullshit America.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 10:57 PM on April 14, 2003


Hmm...

The Web holds no temptation for me any longer. I'd be out of here like a shot if I were not owned by my website. But it is incredibly hard to work here because it's distracting in a non-tempting sense, by which I mean that it is noisy, it is problematic in the tempo of life, it is antithetical to the tempo of writing, which is slow and contemplative. If you're a fast writer it's still slower than life online. I don't think the Web is any longer a place to make things. I think it's just a place to sell them. It used to be a place to make things because life was, in some sense, inspiring — stimulating would be a better word. Maybe if you're 20 and you just recently moved here from AOL. But I haven't and it's not.
posted by rory at 4:00 AM on April 15, 2003


she kept promising her first novel, to be called Exterior Signs of Wealth, would be published before the end of the Millenium

uh, which one?
posted by Vidiot at 4:35 AM on April 15, 2003


Not to be cliched but, JD Salinger.
posted by jonmc at 5:55 AM on April 15, 2003


heh... rory... heh...
posted by gwint at 8:33 AM on April 15, 2003


(cancels plans for the Edgar Guest Reader)
posted by clavdivs at 8:51 AM on April 15, 2003


« Older Was Saddam a gay porn star?...  |  "This isn't freedom, this is b... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments