Sunday, April 20, 2008

PAY THEM NOT TO WRITE

Vantzeti Vassilev reminded us that the Bulgarian communist regime in addition to helping writers not to write by sending them to luxurious writer's retreats on the Black Sea or in the mountains outside Sofia, to conferences concerned with progressive whatevers, to readings in factories, mines and other work places ALSO simply paid them not to write according to Georgi Markov who as you all know was murdered by the Bulgarian secret police in London.

This strikes me as the first thing I have ever heard that was actually a good thing the communists did and think how much good it would do in this country and in the World Republic of Letters if for instance George Soros instead of wasting vast sums of money attacking Republicans--- who enjoy his attention too much--- would set up a fund for paying writers not to write.

The fund would have to specify in return for a considerable sum that the writer would cease immediately all publication and would destroy all notebooks, all unpublished works, all journals and diaries and all letters... and as a result these writers could move on to some other inviting area of self-abuse in the years left to them.

Just imagine the resulting clear literary air and the future beckoning--- see, even I can get into the spirit of the good old communist days...

Just imagine never having to read a new book or even entertaining the possibility of a new book by: (there is no ranking in the list) Don DeLillo, John Updike, Toni Morrison, Joyce Carol Oates, Mary Gordon, Philip Roth, Richard Ford, Charles Baxter, Galway Kinnell, Salman Rushdie, Bernard Henri-Levy, Gunter Grass, Sherman Alexie, Jonathan Safran Foer, Nicole Krauss, W.S. Merwin, Jhumpa Lahiri, Paul Auster, Sharon Olds, Junot Diaz, Jane Smiley, Francine Prose, Seamus Heaney, Katha Pollitt, Paul Muldoon, Umberto Eco, Amy Hempel, Dale Peck, Rick Moody, Barry Hannah, Edmund White, Billy Collins, Robert Stone, Anne Waldeman, John Edgar Wideman, Jonathan Franzen, Kevin Young, Mary Gaitskill, Russell Banks, Derek Walcott, Cynthia Ozick, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Lynne Tillman, Franz Wright, Carlos Fuentes, Louise Gluck, Philip Levine, Tim O'Brien, Martin Amis, Roddy Doyle, J. D. McClatchy, Mark Strand, John Irving, A.M. Homes, Alice Walker, William Boyd, Bell Hooks, E.L. Doctorow, Ian McEwan, Nikki Giovanni, Peter Carey, John Banville, Nadine Gordimer, William Gass, Lydia Davis, Margaret Atwood...

Once the program was in place Mr Soros might contemplate extending this program to include anyone who has ever published a book and somehow achieved a tenured position in the creative writing business in our universities. The colleges and universities do a pretty good job of discouraging publication but this would provide a modicum more of security against the possibility that any of these....(fill in any word you might like) will commit a book.

I confess I do not know what to do with genre writers. They like cockroaches and ants will always be with us.

Some people might be surprised to learn that a few of the writers listed above are still among the living... but the dread remains still.

If anyone doubts the benefits of my proposal just step back and think of the small pleasure knowing that there are no more novels from Saul Bellow and Susan Sontag! No more short stories from Raymond Carver! No more... I was going to mention a poet or two but

If anyone would like to nominate a writer for one of these Soros grants please let me know and I will silently add the name to the list.

AND BEFORE anyone says:::::: at a future moment I will write out a list of those writers whose books I am looking forward to.

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

Now there's a man who REALLY loves his books. If you really want to go to a culture where writers don't write I suggest Cuba where nearly all the writers I know are not permitted by the State to publish their works. Would that satisfy your bizarre anti-art stance? The writers you don't like should stop writing and the ones you do like should write? Sounds like you're incredibly insecure.

Thomas McGonigle said...

I doubt there are books being written or have recently been written in Cuba that would nudge aside a little the best work of Virgilio Pinera, Reinaldo Arenas or that demanding mountain PARADISO by Jose Lezama Lima. 50 years of Castro's regime of the lie has probably ripped out the heart, mind and brains of the vast majority of that island's helots. On the other hand I hope I am wrong and await more hopeful news.

Anonymous said...

It is one of the greatest honors of my life to be included in your list of hated writers, and being counted among them the most flattering thing anyone could possibly have said about me, thank you. And do seek professional help,will you? Your suffering must be truly intolerable.
FW

Anonymous said...

Franz has had his say. Who's next? My money's on Lynne Tillman.

Lloyd Mintern said...

What a way to get attention!

Nihilo said...

Agree. Totally.

C. Van Carter said...

That's a brilliant idea, particulary the necessity of destroying unpublished materials (think of how many books some of these people will annoy us with even after death), and every single name on your list deserves it.

Anonymous said...

I changed my bet.
John Irving not Lynne. He does a lot of Googling.

Franz, TM does get professional help. Except it comes from Bulgarian shrinks.

Thomas McGonigle said...

Anonymous is mis-informed. I have not been shrunk. I trust close readers have noticed that I have been adding authors who qualify for the Soros Grants. They should be carefully alert to communications from Soros as it is well known that Soros works by very subtle means and can be easily mis-interpreted by the unwary though this warning is probably unnecessary as the listed writers are insidiously devious in cultivating unwarranted attention.

Lloyd Mintern said...

I told you that you would get alot of attention with this attitude.

Thomas McGonigle said...

I do not write from attitude or to establish an attitude. Attitudes are like the weather which seems almost to be stating sadly the obvious.

Lloyd Mintern said...

Attitudes are like the weather? Which is stating the obvious? And sadly! This I would like to hear more about. If only for the equation of weather with attitude. How sadness fits in might be interesting too. Add something about cause and effect.

Anonymous said...

The vast anti-TM conspiracy is afoot. Hempel, Homes, Tillman and Franz are plotting right now.

Anonymous said...

Gass comes out with a novel every 50 years or so. That's not so bad.

Anonymous said...

What's wrong with Mary Gordon, in particular?

James said...

I am surprised that you don't like Philip Roth. Have you read Sabbath's Theater or I Married a Communist? I would have expected you to like those books, considering your appreciation of Celine.

Anonymous said...

what on earth could you have against Francine Prose?

Anonymous said...

One word: Dyslexia

HAPPY IN NEVADA said...

I loved your post! I see there's a 'debate' going on with some who are commenting here, so I'll just say 'good going' - loved the post, and be on my way.

HAPPY IN NEVADA said...

Hey, I just had to do a post script because the word verification reads:

'precut'.........

How about that, it actually spells out a WORD! A 'word' to write, and I'm not paid to comment, but couldn't resist......