Serious Mainstream Bilgewater

I know someone who doesn’t like my books because they aren’t in a class with those of J.D. Salinger, Tom Wolfe, Ernest Hemingway, and Stephen King–and other giants of Serious Mainstream Literature. (Stephen King??? Well, he said it, not me.)

I would be seriously demoralized if anybody thought I wrote like any of those babblers. I have a neighbor, you see, who is obsessed with doing laundry. He likes to do it twice a day. His stepson has picked up the habit from him, and also does it twice a day. They both do laundry three or four items at a time. Three baseball caps. Two shirts and a pair of undies.

I think that’s what you do if you’re not writing Serious Mainstream Literature in which nothing bloody happens, nothing is revealed or resolved–the kind of books that make you run screaming back to Edgar Rice Burroughs. At least, if you’re obsessed with laundry, you get clean clothes.

Hemingway was a self-important ponce. Salinger was a dremmler. Stephen King hasn’t written anything worth a damn since the 1970s–and even that, when I revisit it, isn’t as good as it seemed at the time. If it weren’t for academic pinheads providing these writers with captive audiences of college students, no one would read them.

But what do you think, folks? Should I try to write more like J.D. Salinger? Does Helki the Rod need to spend more time worrying about teleological awareness? Or should he just go do some laundry?

9 comments on “Serious Mainstream Bilgewater

  1. Heaven forbid that you should attempt to write like anyone else at all. You have a God-given way with words that is unique. To even suggest that an anointed person in any endeavor emulate someone else is drivel at best. Carry on in your own talented vein.

    1. Don’t worry, Erlene–it was a rhetorical question. But seriously, all writers learn how to write by studying and imitating others. Only after a lot of practice does your own voice come out. At least as far as I’m concerned, though, the studying never stops. So, for everyone who likes the way I pace a story and juggle the subplots, I had to read countless hours (pleasurable hours!) of Edgar Rice Burroughs before I could do that. And for everyone who likes the way I do characters–well, that’s the influence of Walter R. Brooks, C.S. Lewis, Dick Francis, and Agatha Christie, just to name a few.

      There are many people out there who think they can write without bothering to read. They are sorely mistaken.

  2. Oh, yes, you are correct. I have been an avid reader since I was a small child, and love it to this day. I wish my 80 year old eyes were sharper and I would read even more. My feeble attempts at writing no doubt reflect a lot of what I learned through reading.

  3. Lee, you always make me laugh when you’re being satirical. You’re good at it!
    I’ve never read any of those authors, but they’ve always sounded pretty boring to me and I don’t intend to spend any of my hard earned money on things like that while there is another Bell Mountain book to buy.

  4. Stephen King & Serious Mainstream Literature is an oxymoron. I did like Thomas Wolf’s “Bonfire of Vanities” & “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test” but I was very much younger when I read them.

    I have been reading C.S. Lewis sermons today. In his “Learning in War-Time” sermon he says, “Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered.” I thought of Lee Duigon when I read that. P.S. I love sarcasm, a good sign of intelligence.

    1. When I was in collidge I thought Bergman’s movies were the cat’s pajamas. Now I think they would only make me groan.

      But the good stuff that you really like, that’s still just as good, years down the road.

  5. I have never understood the contention that Hemingway was inspired by the style of the Icelandic sagas. The Icelandic sagas contain very little apart from the facts, or the purported facts, whereas Hemingway is all about circumstantial details. You will have to guess for yourself what is actually going on in his books.

    1. I haven’t read much Hemingway, but I have read a lot of sagas. I would say their stylistic hallmark is rhetorical understatement.

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