If you were ever tempted to think
of the great writers as above the fray—well, this will put that idea to rest. I stumbled onto
these snarky, often hilarious digs at other writers on the Toronto Star website—specifically, its daily 5 things online column (a great way to start the day on a bright note, by
“I haven't any right to criticize
books, and I don't do it except when I hate them. I often want to criticize
Jane Austen, but her books madden me so that I can't conceal my frenzy from the
reader; and therefore I have to stop every time I begin. Every time I read
Pride and Prejudice, I want to dig her up and hit her over the skull with her
own shin-bone.” —Mark Twain
“Nobody can be more clownish, more
clumsy and sententiously in bad taste, than Herman Melville, even in a great
book like Moby Dick. ... One wearies of the grand serieux. There's something
false about it. And that's Melville. Oh dear, when the solemn -ss brays! brays!
brays!” —D.H. Lawrence
“Have you ever heard of anyone who
drank while he worked? You're thinking of Faulkner. He does sometimes -- and I
can tell right in the middle of a page when he's had his first one.” —Ernest Hemingway
“[Tom Wolfe] doesn't know how to
write fiction, he can't create a character, he can't create a situation...You
see people reading him on airplanes, the same people who are reading John
Grisham, for Christ's sake....I'm using the argument against him that he can't
write, that his sentences are bad, that it makes you wince. It's like reading a
bad newspaper or a bad piece in a magazine....You know, if you were a good
skater, could you watch someone just fall down all the time? Could you do that?
I can't do that.” —John Irving
“I can't stand [John Updike].
Nobody will think to ask because I'm supposedly jealous; but I out-sell him.
I'm more popular than he is, and I don't take him very seriously ... oh, he
comes on like the worker's son, like a modern-day D.H. Lawrence, but he's just
another boring little middle-class boy hustling his way to the top if he can do
it." —Gore Vidal
Solzhenitsyn] is a bad novelist and a fool. The combination usually
makes for great popularity in the U.S." —Gore Vidal
readers will note a subtle style change in my first paragraph above: The
Writer (and our parent company, Kalmbach Publishing Co.) has joined the
Associated Press, other style guides and many other publications by
changing “Web site” to “website.” This is an acknowledgement that language is
never static, but evolves over time, and that in English, compound word pairs
often end up as one word. You’ll start noticing the change in the August issue
of The Writer.