Litlets

November 1, 2007

Writers I should like but don’t

Mood: esthetically fleeting

Writers I should like, or have been told I should like, but don’t. Some I think are overrated. Others are quite good, even magnificent, but I’d rather have my tonsils pulled out slowly with pliers than read them.

  • e. e. cummings. strip awa yhis (man)nerIsms and
    he’s no grot-
    esque and beautyful orc-
    hid, but a banal lielac. his images of(ten
    do not co(her)e.
    (I’m being unfair to him, and he’s probably a very good lyric poet, but too precious for me.)
  • Joan Didion. She wears her nakedness on her sleeve.
  • Robert Frost. I know he’s one of the great poets of the 20th century. Once I read a Frost poem, it’s in my brain forever. But his Yankee-farmer-philosopher persona draws a nutmeg-grater across my nerves. I have no problem with literary personae. In fact, I’d argue that every narrator is a work of fiction. I just don’t like his.
  • Horace. I wrote about him in an earlier post, and won’t go into detail here.
  • Henry James. I used to be an English major. I can give you a dozen reasons James is a world-class writer. But lordie, don’t ask me to read him. He bores me silly.
  • C. S. Lewis. I know he’s a hero to conservative Christians and fans of the fantasy genre, but a bitter hatred of life oozes from every paragraph.
  • Ezra Pound. He was a brilliant translator, a gifted mentor and editor, but his own works are either Edwardian knock-offs or madly-gummed treatises. Also, I have trouble getting past his anti-Semitism.
  • Rainer Maria Rilke. Everything is carefully wrought and fatally earnest. RMR had no sense of humor.
  • Voltaire. He had a sense of humor. (Rape is funny, isn’t it?)
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