On Writers and Reading

some observations . . .


Economically speaking, Raymond Carver’s short stories reach perfection.  However, assumption based solely on prose is that Carver could not dance.  His words lacked beats.  Staccato.


The first 3 lines of Achebe’s Things Fall Apart:

“Okonko was well known throughout the nine villages and even beyond.  His fame rested on solid personal achievements.  As a young man of eighteen he had brought honor to his village by throwing Amalinze the Cat.”

. . . are worth a semester of study.  The class would consist of folklore and on word usage.  Here the usage error is the weak term, “was”–which should be avoided by the active writer at all costs.  Nevertheless his folklore is mad futuristic, “and even beyond.”


Science Fiction writing is beat.  Unless Harlan Ellison’s nightmares are included in the genre.


Within my lifetime, William James will surpass Sigmund Freud in both accuracy and esteem.  Neuroscience continues to co-sign Mr. Jame’s observations of the early twentieth century.  I move profoundly today to his sentiments on religion:

“The fundamental religious point is that in prayer, spiritual energy, which otherwise would slumber, does become active, and spiritual work of some kind is effected really . . . “

“In short, lives based on having are less free than lives based either on doing or on being, and in the interest of action people subject to spiritual excitement throw away possessions as so many clogs . . .”

“Religious feeling is thus an absolute addition to the subject’s range of life.  It gives him a new sphere of power . . .”

–I still balk at religious dogma and his hyper usage of the comma though.  But that’s okay Mr. James says:

“Some persons, for instance, never are, and possibly, never could be, converted.  Religious ideas cannot become the centre of their spiritual energy . . .  Such ineptitude for religious faith may in some cases be intellectual in its origin.”


Par Lagerkvist’s, The Dwarf  is required reading in a smarter world.  Especially one holding compassion in high value.  A few sentences from The Dwarf himself from war-torn 1945:

“I have noticed that sometimes I frighten people; what they really fear is themselves.  They think it is I who scare them, but it is the dwarf within them, the ape-faced manlike being who sticks up his head from the depths of their souls.”

Notice his crafty use of the semi-colon; but I hesitate to recommend anyone ever using the tired word “soul” –unless speaking of the music genre.


America owns only a handful of great authors;  William Faulkner, the most talented, John Kennedy Toole, the brainiest, and Richard Wright, the existentialist, come to mind immediately.  To which  I enter, As I Lay Dying, A Confederacy of Dunces, and The Outsider into evidence.


Above all writers is the master Carlyle.  Thomas Carlyle did everything wrong.  He made messes of commas and semi-colons.  He fused run-ons and fragments.  And he did all of that because we can’t and he could . . . Any person may make beauty with symmetry.  Evolution dictates we like symmetrical shit.  Therefore, the master artist disguises beauty within disorder, chaos, and bedlam –rejecting the ease of parallel structure in pursuit of truth.  Truth is almost never symmetrical in natural states.


image from Wikipedia. An illustration from Mr. Carlyle’s “Sartor Resartus” (1803)



One comment

  1. I love Carver. Some of his short stories have a fogginess to them that I wish I could replicate.

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