Lewis Hyde and The Gift 01/15/2008
Nothing's more unseemly in a writer than whining in public about how unfamous and unsuccessful he or she is. You know the drill—often it's disguised as a rant about the sorry state of literary fiction, or about the rampant commercialization of publishing, but the clear subtext (and the real reason for writing the piece in the first place) is, "Why aren't I Jonathan Franzen?" Franzen, of course, being the author of such a piece himself, years ago, in Harper's, where under the guise of bemoaning the fact that ambitious realist novels about Big Themes (specifically his) didn't get the attention they deserved, he was really asking, "Why aren't I Don DeLillo?" Another example was an anonymous piece in Salon a few years back, in which (as I recall) Ms. Anonymous bemoaned the fact that her subsequent novels didn't have the sales of her bestselling first one.
In which I mostly write about books, movies, and TV. An all-purpose spoiler alert: Sometimes I will talk about these works on the assumption that the reader's already read or seen them, so if you haven't, be forewarned.
About Last Night