Writers Behaving Badly

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Writers are a sensitive bunch:

According to Bill Peschel’s post “Where Have All The Good Literary Feuds Gone,” when legendary writers like Mailer and Hemingway weren’t hammering away at their typewriters, they were hammering away at each other. But the fights have fizzled out in recent years. Perhaps it’s because we’ve decided the pen is, in fact, mightier, or perhaps it’s because (somehow) we’re not drinking enough.

“Something worth bleeding for”:

Bolaño, at least, wasn’t fearful of offending his fellow writers. In a review of Between Parentheses for The Faster Times, Lincoln Michel highlights some of the writer’s candor when discussing his contemporaries. Bolaño called Isabel Allende’s writing “anemic,” and of Osvaldo Soriano said, “You have to have a brain full of fecal matter to see him as someone around whom a literary movement can be built.”

Although it hasn’t been very long since Bolaño was calling out his cohort, it seems this level audacity has already died out. A. L. Kennedy recently lamented that during interviews authors must not “say anything that inadvertently damages or embarrasses a friend or loved one, […] mention anything inept or controversial, or comment on anything to do with the Wonderful World of Literature that might blow up in his or her face later, causing untold woe.”

A review and a riposte:

Although blood hasn’t been drawn, writer Peter Manso (twice nominated for the Pulitzer) has been feuding with a Times reviewer who called his latest book, Reasonable Doubt a “disaster, at once lumpen and bonkers.” In return, Manso called the piece a “hideously atrocious review,” calling into question the professionalism of both the writer and The Times

Nothing is sacred:

Also, a blog (plainly titled The Psycho Ex Wife) has proven that even writing nasty things about people can get you in trouble, costing you your blog and custody of your children.


— Benjamin Samuel is the Online Editor of Electric Literature. He once caught a mouse with his bare hands.

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