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Wish I'd written it

Here's Laura Jacobs in Vanity Fair, writing about the novelist Mary McCarthy's scandalous 1963 novel, The Group:

Setting aside the fact that McCarthy could be quite theatrical when reading her work before an audience, there is a distinctly narrated, documentary-voice-over quality to her fiction, as if her tales came straight from her head—eyes, ears, brain, mouth—without ever having traveled through her heart. (emphasis mine.)

That's not a put-down. That's the verbal equivalent of a Mob hit.

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( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
penshark
Jul. 7th, 2013 02:27 am (UTC)
And I wish I'd written your last paragraph. Nicely put.
patrick_vecchio
Jul. 7th, 2013 04:25 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Carole. That piece was well written: It had to be, because I didn't know doink about McCarthy until I read it.

http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2013/07/vassar-sex-single-girl-ivy-league-mary-mccarthy
nodressrehersal
Jul. 7th, 2013 06:59 pm (UTC)
Wow - right between the eyes. Nice analogy, pjv. That's how I've always felt about Joyce Carole Oates' writing, and why I think I'm the only WNYer (she's from around here somewhere) who doesn't pretend to be smitten with her work. Blech.
patrick_vecchio
Jul. 7th, 2013 07:08 pm (UTC)
I can't remember if I read her and didn't like her, or haven't read her at all. I'm thinking the first choice is true; if so, I was less than whelmed.
gregorypeccary
Jul. 8th, 2013 10:37 pm (UTC)
I read "The Group" after having scene a snippet of the 1965 movie in which Candice Bergen made her first film appearance. The following year she was in "The Sand Pebbles" with Steve McQueen and, as a young man, I thought she was the most beautiful woman I'd ever seen. Not exactly the best reason to read the book, but that's nonetheless what had led me to what many term a "woman's book".

I don't remember anything about the book's plot other than it had a lot of sex in it, and that's all it needed to keep my attention. I do remember, however, that Ms. McCarthy's prose was well chosen and effortless. And, I do remember seeing her on the talk shows of the time -- Cavett, etc. -- as she was a drama critic and moved well through NY society where back stabbing is an art.



patrick_vecchio
Jul. 9th, 2013 03:51 pm (UTC)
To remember her prose as "well chosen and effortless" so many years later says a lot about your memory and even more about your writing. The greats make it look easy, but as Thomas Mann once said, "A writer is a person for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people."
vivitalia
Jul. 15th, 2013 03:55 pm (UTC)
Ouch. I actually do like JCO, but not because she's from around these parts. That's a tale for a different day, but I don't know doink about McCarthy either. Inspired to check her out now, just to see if she deserved the jab.
patrick_vecchio
Jul. 15th, 2013 08:28 pm (UTC)
"Doink" is one of the best words in English.
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Wish I'd Said It

Nota bene: “Fear has governed my life, if I think about it. ... I always feel like I’m not good enough for some reason. I wish that wasn’t the case, but left to my own devices, that voice starts speaking up.” – Trent Reznor

“I hate to say this, but not many people care what you do. They care about what you do as much as you care about what they do. Think about it. Just exactly that much. You are not the center of the universe.” — Laurie Anderson

"The path's not yours till you've gone it alone a time." – William Carlos Williams

“Filling this empty space constitutes my identity.” – Twyla Tharp

"My definition of peace is having no noise in my head." – Eric Clapton

"The wreckage of the sky serves to confirm us in delicious error." – John Ashbery

"We are all here by the grace of the big bang. We are all literally the stuff of the stars." – Dwight Owsley

"For my part, I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of stars makes me dream." – Vincent van Gogh

"It is only with the heart that one can see right; what is essential is invisible to the eye." — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

"Forget about being a perfectionist, because entropy always wins out in the end." – Darren Kaufman.

"Impermanence. Impermanence. Impermanence." – Garry Shandling

"Fame is a vapor; popularity an accident; the only earthly certainty is oblivion." – Mark Twain

"There is no realm wherein we have the truth." – Gordon Lish

"Actual life is full of false clues and sign-posts that lead nowhere." – E.M. Forster

“Some scientists claim that hydrogen, because it is so plentiful, is the basic building block of the universe. I dispute that. I say there is more stupidity than hydrogen, and that is the basic building block of the universe." – Frank Zappa

“I try to leave out the parts that readers tend to skip.” – Elmore Leonard

“The secret of being a bore is to tell everything.” – Voltaire

• Journal title and subtitle: Ian Hunter, “Man Overboard”

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