I miss this little Tumblr. Holy moly I am itching to write something that is not about the writing of someone else. Good news: I’ve got like 15 pages left to write of my book (PROCESS: THE WRITING LIVES OF GREAT AUTHORS—they tell me it’s time to start promoting), and then revisions. I need to share this because S. Jam is out of town and I haven’t talked to anyone but my dog since Sunday. SOS.
Be with me, Beauty, for the fire is dying.
The mere act of reading a sentence containing this information—that F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote The Great Gatsby at age 28—puts a writer immediately in the humble place where she belongs.
F. Scott and Zelda Get Married
And it’s not the to-do you would expect:
Niether Scott’s nor Zelda’s parents attended the wedding. The only witnesses were Scott’s Princeton friend and best man, Ludlow Fowler, and Zelda’s three older sisters, who were by then married and living in New York. Scott, who was nervous, insisted the ceremony begin before Clothilde (one of Zelda’s sisters) arrived. There was no lunch or party after the wedding, which Rosalind (another sister) considered rude and never forgave, and the couple promptly left for their honeymoon at the Biltmore Hotel.
-From Jeffrey Meyers’s F. Scott Fitzgerald biography.
The search for an identity is one of the most wholesale phony ideas we’ve ever been sold.
Suburban Fantasies of a Suburban Soul
The way that I know that I love Zadie Smith’s writing is that as I’m reading her, I from time to time find myself fundamentally disagreeing with her, and even so, find her presentation of that argument lovely, the words used to express it making the argument worthy of my attention, whether I am ultimately swayed or not. I feel the gush that usually comes with reading something that perfectly encapsulates your own feelings, but the gush in this case is about something else, which has to be her writing.
That’s one thing I’ve been thinking about when I think about Zadie Smith this past week.
The other thing is how often the gush is indeed because she just slayed all previous attempts to encapsulate a certain concept.
In that vein, the following is not a Zadie Smith argument to be disagreed with. It is instead the most devastating, cut-to-the-core critique of Facebook I’ve ever come across:
If [Facebook] were a genuinely interesting interface, built for these genuinely different 2.0 kids to live in, well, that would be something. It’s not that. It’s the wild west of the Internet tamed to fit the suburban fantasies of a suburban soul.
From her 2010 essay "Generation Why?" in the New York Review of Books.
This quote from Zadie Smith explains why the technically competent and even expert writing in the New York Times and, often, outlets like The New Yorker has a sameness to it that flattens you:
I kind of feel suspicious of pure writing, of something that never embarrasses you, which is completely clean. It’s just, in my experience, writing which is completely clean is writing that has had shorn from it almost everything that’s of interest.
You watch this video and tell me Charlie Rose isn’t right before our eyes developing a crush on a seventy-some-odd-year-old Margaret Atwood, and that you’re not right there with him.