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Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Alright, so it’s not as bad as I had thought - suburban realism is not the only sort of writing that our critics and publishers are willing to take seriously. Nor, apparently, is it still necessary to write in a “spare” and “understated” mode, previously the highest flattery an author could wish for. Nor is it required to have a meager vocabulary, or to offer sex scenes every fifteen pages of the kind to make a gynecologist wince. Nor must one have been published in The New Yorker, thank god.
In other words, I’m just now finishing up Cormac McCarthy’s Suttree, the best and most unafraid novel I’ve seen in a very long time. The man writes as he pleases, and doesn’t greatly care whether anyone likes it or not, in my opinion the first pre-requisite of a genuine artist. His tropes are original and often startling, and his dialogue, not to put too fine a point on it, is about as perfect as it gets for the sort of characters he enlists. He must be read slowly and with delectation, and oftentimes it will be advisable for the reader to close his eyes and allow the fumes, as it were, to waft to the aesthetic centers of the mind. And then, too, the man’s vocabulary is larger than Shakespeare’s, comprising vast numbers of six-, seven-, and eight-letter words


but almost none that are longer than that. I began to jot down these words as I read and have now accumulated a list of 176 of them that I hope the readers of this blog will, first, look up and, secondly, send the definitions to me.


He also has a very interesting story to tell.

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