Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Denial Ain’t Just a River in Egypt…

I wrote that line!  You are all my witnesses in case anybody asks, right?  It’s a fact!  You just read it, on MY blog, in black and white! Can’t denial that!  

I’m sure a few people out there will go around saying that I wasn’t the first one to do so, but my answer to them is, ‘Get a life!’  I mean, really!  Why make such a fuss?  

O.K., O.K.! Fine!  So it was Mark Twain who wrote the line before me but hey, that was sooo long ago…..

Speaking of denial - I hate Phillip Roth!  There, I said it!  Yes, I did and I do.  Any writer slash hoping to get published and become an author type person person, should detest Phillip Roth!  Why?  I’ll tell you why! 

At the suggestion of a friend who shall remain nameless to protect her identity (Rosie, I know you meant well but you know what they say about the road to Hell and all that…), I spent the last few days reading ‘American Pastoral’ (that’s why I was gone for so long, by the way!) and oh, how I wish I hadn’t!  It really unnerved me!  There is something seriously not right about that book!  There are forces at work here and I, for one, am very suspicious!  Very suspicious indeed!  Any reasonable person would be, I say.  

The way I see it, we all write with the same English language.  There is no common English and then a deluxe version - it’s all one and the same set of expressions all of us use every day.  Yes, I admit, there were a few words in Mr. Roth’s book I had to look up, but that was just to make sure he wasn’t making something up just to make his prose sound more clever.  I did my research, I checked my facts, I’m not just spewing off the top of my head, willy nilly, I know whereof I speak!  

Nobody can convince me that this man just took all the same words I have used many a time in my writing, that all he did was put them in a a particular order and hey, presto! he produces a literary classic that just blows you away!  I just refuse to believe that.  It’s not possible, not without something else, something nobody sees.  Nobody except me that is.  Can’t pull the wool over my eyes!  No sir!  Uh-uh!  

I have a theory.  It has to do with hypnotism.  I think that Mr. Roth figured out how to arrange certain letters or words (I’m not sure which yet, but I’m working on it!) in such an order that when the reader is exposed to this combination, over and over again, they fall under a spell which tell them ‘You will love this book!  You will love this book!  You will think it’s one of the best you have ever, ever read and you will feel compelled to tell everyone that….’  Oh my God!  See? See, what did I tell you!  It’s working on me too, even though I know what’s going on!!  This is worse than I thought!  

And another thing - ‘American Pastoral’ is an insidious plot to get rid of the competition!  Damn it, it has to be!  There is no other way to look at it!  After reading the book, a writer, even as self-respecting as I, will hear the words “Don’t quit your day job!  Don’t quit your day job!” just screaming in their heads!  It’s horrible!  I’ve been on pain killers ever since I finished and that was two days ago!  Oh, the migraine!  I cannot face the facts, I just CAN’T!  Yet, the truth of the matter is undeniable and that is:

Mr. Phillip Roth could get a frontal lobotomy
 and he’d still write better than I ever could!

I think I’ll put my coloring paper and crayons away and go do something else…. 

A.J. Aston

1 comment:

  1. A.J.--I have to admit, I've read Goodbye, Columbus, I Married a Communist, and Everyman--and after that--I had enough. I guess I view Roth as an "American snapshot" writer (or in his case, "Jewish American snapshot" writer) who tries to make a strong, bold statement about life in American society that ends up coming out as a whimpering collection of quips delivered through the thoughts and dialogue of forgettable characters and story lines. When you compare literature that tries to reveal something about Jewish culture and life in post-WWII America, Roth doesn't even come close to the talent or "impact" that Arthur Miller, Elie Wiesel, and Art Spiegelman do.

    I think it is one of the major problems with the publishing world and the readership that looks to it for guidance in that writers are elevated to a level of greatness that they really shouldn't be. Whether or it is an American identity issue--where we feel we must have a top ten list of Great American writers (i.e., Great American minds) ready at hand to whip out whenever the nation is criticized for being intellectually bankrupt--or something else, I don't know.

    But for Roth to be considered an author of such distinction that he can dictate who is worthy and who is not in the world of literature--for me--I'd approach his recommendations with the same caution I approach his work: there might be something there, but chances are, there isn't much.


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