The 1976 film, Network, kept creeping up into my psyche yesterday. It seemed like a perfect storm had brewed leading to my inner Peter Finch-style cranky fit. Everything came to a head after I read a recent essay excerpt on Salon.com. It was from a supposedly longer piece by the writer, Periel Aschenbrand (who has a blurb on her personal website describing herself as the “Lady Gaga of Literature”). VIDA had posted the link with the question of why would a female writer think it in any way a good idea to sleep her way to the top. [Feel free to find the article and read it; I just can’t bring myself to relink it here but to abbreviate: the writer claims to have had an opportunity to dance the horizontal hustle with author, Philip Roth, and considered how having such an affair would skyrocket her to fame and notoriety].
Halfway through the read, my inner Peter Finch stood up and screamed, I’m not gonne take this anymore!
I read till the end. I’m sure many people will take issue with the content of the essay–one attempts to further career by shagging up the ladder–but I just thought, what drivel? This essay was not funny (which I imagine was its intent) but, no, I was more concerned with its lack of creativity, story telling and craft. It fell flat. Yet, I’m sure it will get a lot of hits for Salon because of the title. What it revealed most was that the writer was not as quick and witty as she thought, but, instead, had the skills to string together a good tale like a fifth grader attempting open-heart surgery. What was proposed as an amusing and brazen anecdote made the writer look tired and shallow. The thesis of the essay could have been exactly the same if written in a well crafted and imaginative manner, but like Philip Roth in the essay, I too would have been bored by the writer and continued eating cherries.
To add insult to injury, during my total lackluster afternoon reading this juvenile and trite essay, I logged into my Goodreads account for the second time ever. I first created the account about a year ago. When I glanced through my virtual bookshelves, I noticed I had a ton of books but more noticeable was the ton of books that I had not even heard of. After some sleuthing, I found out that the default selection on Goodreads is to automatically add recommendations. Some books, I had no recollection of; others did look like they might be of mild interest; but then I was completely stunned by a romance novel featuring a shirtless cowboy depicted in fuzzy lens with half of his face blocked by, if memory serves me correctly, a giant cowboy hat (but even if it didn’t have the hat, I would like to think it did). I can’t fathom was Goodreads’ algorithm would choose a book with such factory produced plot and hackneyed language–perhaps, another book on the shelf had a storyline with romance?
I was just so annoyed by this avalanche of crap writing.
Perhaps, I should stop here. If I don’t, I fear, I could go on and on. Life is too short for many things and why would anyone want to waste time on bad writing. It seems like we are in a deluge of it lately, though. Where is this trend coming from? Has it always been around and now that we are all more connect, the bad everything has a chance to read its nasty head? Why are we letting this slide?
Whatever you’ve made of my cranky, writerly rant, I shall leave you with this.