The Writer’s Voice (1)

I have never shied away from the fact that my reading habits tend to hover, wasp-like, around the strange pot of jam that is Obscure European Literature. A strange – and need I say it – large pot of jam, which leaves little time for other pleasures. As such, the wonders of American literature are somewhat of a mystery to me. I don’t know my Twain from my Whitman, my Hemingway from my Fitzgerald, or my Franzen from my Foster Wallace. Speaking of the latter, however, I did read an interesting account of his sad life in a British newspaper this last weekend, from which I have gleaned the following quotations:

‘The writer’s voice took on a life of its own, which I think he found very constraining. I think part of what he was struggling with was how to change that voice. Cleverness, particularly for someone as clever as David, is the hardest thing to give up. It’s like being naked, or getting married as opposed to having one-night stands. People don’t want to be thought of as sentimental. Writers don’t anyway.’ [Karen Green on Foster Wallace]

‘I am tired of myself, it seems: tired of my thoughts, associations, syntax, various verbal habits that have gone from discovery to technique to tic. It’s a dark time workwise…’ [Foster Wallace on Foster Wallace]

Both quotations, I think, speak for themselves.


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