Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Things You Probably Already Knew

Stephen King needs an editor. Bag of Bones is a pretty good book, but really just way too long in some places. He can't resist a thought full of clever word play that might cross the narrator's mind, relevant or not, credible or not. This man is thinking of clever puns while being scared out of his mind. Really, it's any appearance of cleverness at all that he can't bear to cut. It reminds me of William Goldman's truism, for screenwriting but probably for all writing--you must kill your darlings. Sometimes your best work is the part you have to cut. C'mon, Stephen. Be merciless.

Okay, so maybe you didn't know that. Maybe you're like that smug librarian in my hometown library who used to remark on every book you were checking out, often unfavorably. She wrinkled her nose whenever I checked out Stephen King, which I never did till after high school. But then again, I got to feel smug when she said she couldn't understand Like Water for Chocolate, which I actually enjoyed a lot.

You also probably knew that the 50s was a lousy decade to be gay in America. I knew that, too. This fellow, Martin Duberman, has seriously internalized a great deal of psychoanalytic theory, to the point where even when he's refuting things, he speaks their language. This has led me to do some thinking about the word "pretentious." It occurs to me that genuine highfalutinness is not actually pretention--if you're a world-renowned academic, you're not pretending to anything when you talk like a world-renowned academic. It's only when you're a freshman, or just plain ignorant, that you can call it pretentious.

I grant him that--he's not pretentious--though I still don't much like it.

I guess this entry wasn't mostly about things you probably already knew. Except the Stephen King thing. So, Thing You Probably Already Knew.

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