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The Screw Takes a Bad Turn
February 22, 2006 2:01 PM   Subscribe

The Mystery of Henry James's Testicular Injury
posted by grumblebee (32 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

Wow, that took balls.
posted by mwhybark at 2:10 PM on February 22, 2006

Looks like it was printed on a 9 pin dot matrix printer.
posted by furtive at 2:11 PM on February 22, 2006

This FPP is nuts. NUTS!
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:12 PM on February 22, 2006

I read the whole thing and I'm not 100% sure what his thesis was. It seemed to be some combination of:

1) Henry James had a testicular injury. Or was gay. Or Both.
2) Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald were gay. With each other. Or not.
3) Nick, from "The Great Gatsby" was gay. Probably.
4) The guy sitting across from the author at the library while he researched this paper is gay. Maybe.
posted by justkevin at 2:28 PM on February 22, 2006

Look, there's no reason for you guys to get teste...
posted by stenseng at 2:31 PM on February 22, 2006

That was kind of amusing. But this:

In his essays he addressed such topics as his poo-ing misadventures in France...

reminds me that one of the funniest things I have ever read, Ames's "I Shit My Pants in the South of France," is not available on the internet. You can find all sorts of references to it, but not the thing itself in all its scatological glory. Yeah, yeah, I know: copyright. Bah. Anyway, if you can find it on old-fashioned paper, read it. But not where you'd be ashamed to be heard laughing raucously.
posted by languagehat at 2:40 PM on February 22, 2006

Thanks, I enjoyed that. Hyper-technical yet silly and pretty much pointless in the end.
posted by beerbajay at 2:53 PM on February 22, 2006

I'm sorry, but the whole "all authors are gay" kind of polyanna chanting that's pervaded literary studies for the past 15 years or so is the reason I said no to a Master's degree.

To people doing graduate literary students: it's OK to be gay (if you are), but the silly obsession with "outing" everyone of historical note who's now long dead has really got to go.
posted by clevershark at 3:05 PM on February 22, 2006

I'm assuming you meant studies, but I suppose students would work there too. Heh.
posted by emelenjr at 3:10 PM on February 22, 2006

I'm sorry, but the whole "all authors are gay" kind of polyanna chanting that's pervaded literary studies for the past 15 years or so is the reason I said no to a Master's degree.

That's the reason?

I'm not sure which school you were considering, but I've been to several and did not notice the chanting. Possible I was in the wrong part of the building.
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 3:18 PM on February 22, 2006 [1 favorite]

I just saw Ames give a reading here in Chicago. His story, "Bald, Impotent, and Depressed," brought the house down. He claims that you can see his own sack on the cover of this book.
posted by horsewithnoname at 3:18 PM on February 22, 2006

Not many authors do a reading like Ames. If you ever get the chance, go see him. Wonderful guy.
posted by xmutex at 3:28 PM on February 22, 2006

languagehat: Is that available in any of the Ames collections?
posted by xmutex at 3:37 PM on February 22, 2006

Here, xmutex.
posted by horsewithnoname at 3:42 PM on February 22, 2006

Wow. I'd forgotten James Wood existed until reading this. He's so damn nuanced to the point of being--nothing, really. Does he ever make a point? Does he ever not talk about the sex lives of authors over wine and dinner?

I like this Ames fellow. Nice link.
posted by bardic at 3:47 PM on February 22, 2006

Not many authors do a reading like Ames. If you ever get the chance, go see him. Wonderful guy.

Did you mean wonderfully gay?

We'll have to research this further.
posted by mr.curmudgeon at 3:56 PM on February 22, 2006

Here are some very funny Jonathan Ames pieces.
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 4:52 PM on February 22, 2006

posted by Balisong at 5:02 PM on February 22, 2006

some memoire of hemingway's, post mortemly published (a movable feast, maybe?) talked about fitzgerald's tiny penis. I posit that the author of this essay was seeing gays where he should have seen poorly endowed men.

the bit I'm thinking of in the hemingway memoire talked about taking fitzgerald to see the greek and roman statues in museums in order to make him feel better since those statues were poorly endowed. But seeing those statues didn't make him feel any better, implying that fitzgerald was ever MORE poorly endowed. poor bastard.
posted by shmegegge at 5:04 PM on February 22, 2006

shmegegge, indeed, that's from A Moveable Feast.
posted by bardic at 5:19 PM on February 22, 2006

Carraway talks about or alludes to three relationships with women in the book: an engagement back West, a short affair with an office girl and his relationship with Jordan Baker.

Rather too many woman for a gay man I would have thought, unless of course he was bisexual or an unreliable narrator, or a communist or anything you think suits your own political worldview.
posted by johnny novak at 12:13 AM on February 23, 2006

Keep in mind that A Moveable Feast is basically a pack of self-serving bullshit. Very enjoyable, mind you, but not to be confused with an actual fact-based memoir. Pretty much everything he says about Fitzgerald, Dos Passos, and other rivals verges on slander.
posted by languagehat at 6:11 AM on February 23, 2006

Nuts to that!
posted by Pollomacho at 7:37 AM on February 23, 2006

I saw this on America’s funniest home videos - wasn’t a football involved?
posted by Smedleyman at 8:36 AM on February 23, 2006

Actually, I like this piece. Often times the way in which a mystery was an open secret that was referenced and hinted at by a bunch of people connected to each other makes for a better story than the actual facts. If the author had found an obscure letter saying that Henry James was impotent due to an accident on such and such a date, (I'm thinking, hernia?) there wouldn't be much to say. But instead, you have a series of biographers and novelists who knew some or all of the truth but chose to only hint at it in roundabout ways.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:50 AM on February 23, 2006

A couple years ago, when I took a graduate course on James, my wife (then girlfriend) helpfully wrote a paper for me to turn in as my own work. Unfortunately, it was written on the subject of James's "melty balls," and how that explained why James was a bad writer, primarily based on this Ames essay. Sadly, I had to write my own paper for the class.
posted by UKnowForKids at 11:38 AM on February 23, 2006

(If Henry James had been a member of Metafilter ..)

His years as a "lurker", though they had inured him to much, had not prepared him for the sight of his own name in what others were pleased to call "the blue". His own name: and in proximity to such curious hints, such unutterable suggestions, that while his fingers itched to "click" he knew that his eyes, impelled, it would seem, by some queer reluctance to follow the direction of his thoughts, would hesitate, would positively refuse to cast one hesitating glance upon the words displayed on that familiar cerulean screen.

"Flag it," she commanded, "and move on."

He had indeed been considering that very action; yet even as he bowed his head in acknowledgement of his interlocutress's observation, he knew -- knew with a brief but unfathomable certainty -- that it would not, so to speak, "do". "Thanks, my dear," he returned, "but the object you propose so peremptorily to "flag" is not --"


"Not, I should say, an object to be confronted -- though how I admire you for it! -- but one to be circled endlessly round and round -- why, it's immense!" He was almost gay at the prospect. "Not to be pinned down -- poor struggling butterfly! -- but held up, examined from all manner of angles, discussed at length but never", he smiled, "never with the prospect of reaching any agreement."

He paused, as if to check the thought that had risen unbidden to his lips.

"I might", he murmured thoughtfully, "take it to Metatalk."
posted by verstegan at 4:28 AM on February 24, 2006 [15 favorites]

that's one of the funniest things I've read in forever. flagged as fantastic.
posted by shmegegge at 10:13 AM on February 24, 2006

shmegegge, what the hell were you doing here two days late?
posted by matteo at 11:40 AM on March 4, 2006

no idea.
posted by shmegegge at 2:03 PM on March 4, 2006

posted by matteo at 2:27 PM on March 4, 2006

Ames is about as funny as a barbecue at a burn center. Effete. Neurotic. Useless. Instead of telling his friend "Hey, you've got bad breath," we get a dozen paragraphs about his suffering. And the one about him taking his girlfriend for an enema? What a romantic gesture.
posted by atchafalaya at 4:55 PM on March 4, 2006

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