clap clap blog: we have moved

Tuesday, June 10, 2003
From an interview with Hilary Clinton:

NP: So what is your book about?

HC: ABOUT? What is my book ABOUT? It's about America, jack, and how we live in it despite everything. It's about the big themes, which writers today are too pussy-whipped to address. I mean, fuck Jonathan Safran Foer, with his little magical-realist eponymous narrator shit. Fuck Jonathan Franzen. That's not a social novel. It's just a book about a professor who can't get his dick straight and then some other people. American literature today is just about belly-gazing. My book is about the grand things, like death, life, and fucking. Big topics for a big woman. Fuck everyone else. I really can't give a fuckety-fuck-fuck about them. I've got too much other shit on my plate. You know what I'm saying?

NP: I do. What do you think of James Frey?

HC: Oh. I love his stuff.

NP: What about Heidi Julavits' essay in the first issue of The Believer, where she calls for the end of snark?

HC: Fuck that. It's bullshit. I don't have time for that shit. I'm HILLARY CLINTON. Do you think I have time for literary party games? I swear, that whole McSweeneys thing is so forced. Do I want to go to church or read a fucking book? I want literature about real things, not some fucking sacrificial hipster rite. Who cares if it's well-designed? Mein Kampf is well-designed, and that fucking book caused a lot of trouble. Dave Eggers is really just a better-looking Hitler who doesn't hate Jews.

Not that there's any moral equivalence between Dave Eggers and Hitler or anything. I'd hate to appear to be endorsing that.

Anyway, very good piece by Neal there, especially liked the James Frey ref. James Frey is pretty funny. I also liked the fact that Hil gets Tourettic. But what I really liked is that it allows me to segue into my own subject, viz:

I did me a reading Sunday night

This reminded me of two things, which I say in total honesty and without any false modesty: 1) that I am unusually good at doing readings, and 2) why I do not do readings anymore. The first goes without saying (I'm fabulous, witty, mind-numbingly handsome, etc.) but let me explicate the second a bit more.

I hate writers. I know, I know, all writers say that, but I hate writers so much that I stopped writing. Well, not really--of course I still write lyrics, and a decent number of my songs are basically spoken-word pieces--but it definitely drove me away from my original New York goal of being a writer to the new goal of being a working musician. A large part of it was the experience of playing to a crowd; I had been one of those bedroom musician kids, but once I got out and played in front of people who were reasonably interested in hearing what I did, it became quickly apparently that it was just plain ol' a lot more fun than doing a reading to a bunch of people, even if you were pretty good at readings and keeping a crowd involved and friendly and etc.

The problem is that since writers don't get the energy and feedback of a crowd or set of listeners driving them, they seem to compensate in other ways. Most notably, they create some sort of "transgressive" personality (c.f. Frey) and go with it, which aside from being annoying in and of itself also tends to influence their non-public persona and thence gets into the writing. And we have enough crappy Bukowski imitators already, it seems to me. Now, I don't mean writers who actually write (or try to write) for a living--freelancers, media folk, etc. These can be annoying but in a much different, and, I think, much smaller way. The "I'm a writer" writers, though...I mean, they're not unlike the people who are protesters because they like the culture of protesting, or who start a band because they think it would be cool to be in a band. They might actually be talented, but all too often that tends to be obscured by the persona, and quite frankly I can't stand to be around them, much less participate in readings with them. I'll probably start focusing on writing again at some point, but for now, I'm much happier with my music crowds.