May 01, 2005

quit picking on him, you bullies!

In a recent interview with LA Weekly, Jonathan Safran Foer was quoted as saying,
“I am probably the most hated writer in America.”


I worry about the guy.
I'm not kidding. But then I tend to fret over people, worrying about their well-being, if they're happy in their lives...maybe it's genetic. My mother does this too- in a wonderfully sweet way...she worries over people...whether she knows them, or not.

It seems Jonathan has been getting his share of flack since the launch of his latest, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Critics have called the work, 'gimmicky', and many of his fellow writers...well...let's just say I've read an awful lot of commentary about how they 'feel' about him...and it's not very nice.

The thing is, I like his stuff. But even if I didn't, I wouldn't be jumping on the 'let's bash Safran Foer band wagon.'

"I'm sick of him. Sick sick sick."

"You just kind of want to pick on someone with a moniker like Safran. The Foer part is also a little irritating."

"JSF annoys the SHIT out of me."


Those are comments from writers...people who share the same passion in life. Ditch the jealousy, folks.
Can't we all just get along?

A couple of weeks ago, I saw an excellent episode of Hot Type where host, Evan Solomon interviewed Safran Foer. He sure didn't seem neurotic, self-absorbed or snotty to me. He spoke quite humbly and honestly about his work, mentioning his feeling that he has to 'justify' sitting down and writing every day. (What writer worth his or her salt hasn't felt that?) He spoke about the way the internet has changed the way people read and how he knows he's had a good day when his work has made him 'feel'. For the first time, in a long time, I felt that another writer had said what I had been feeling all along...that writing isn't some magical conjuring of words, but rather that it's hard work, (the sit your bum in the chair every day variety) and that the world is 'exceptionally complicated.'

The other day I got a phone call from another writer, an established author I had given my card to some time ago. I admire her work and was glad to get to know better. We had a delightful conversation. We talked about where we were with our current WIPs, chatted about the places we've lived, shared thoughts on the writing process. Good stuff.

When we were through, she said (sounding a little surprised) "You're really nice."
I laughed and said, "I guess I try to be 'the nice writer'. I don't get what's to be gained from being so damned snarky."

So, hey - Jonathan...You've got a friend way up here on the edge of Canada.
Boldly go.

Here's his extremely, incredibly cool web site:
The Project Museum

1 comment:

M.B.S. said...

Interesting blog, once again, Ami.

I was in grad school with a bunch of MFA-ers. Even with their occasional publications in obscure venues--or their mere approval by teachers--these guys and gals were ice and fire towards their closely-linked yet from-a-different-department MA counterparts. We had some of the same English classes together. We shared a Teaching Assistant "office" (a trailer). And I ended up getting along with those who ended up giving me the time of day.

But at parties, there was usually this clear line of posturing, the "*We* write" Creative Writing crowd versus what I guess they thought were cold, unimaginative critics, the English students.

Yet the MA students wrote poetry, wrote in our journals, wrote letters, wrote short stories, had novels and plays in progress, got together for readings, criticized each other's stuff.

What we didn't have was thick enough skins. We never shared our writing with the "real" writers in the MFA program. It was probably better that way. I still don't see why they had to be so nasty.

If it takes so much to break "in" to the writing community, does that community then hold itself to such a high and narrow standard that it must eliminate all who "annoy?"