One of the truly great writers-and one of my favorites-Vladimir Nabokov once said of writer Joseph Conrad, “I cannot abide Conrad’s souvenir shop style and bottled ships and shell necklaces of romanticist clichés.”
Yes, writers can be snippy, catty, and insulting. How about William Faulkner on Ernest Hemmingway. “He has never been known to use a single word that might send a reader to a dictionary.” It may be an insult, but if you have read Hemmingway, you know that to be true. And Faulkner was far worse in talking about America’s beloved writer, Mark Twain. Faulkner said, “A hack writer who would not have been considered fourth rate in Europe, who tricked out a few of the old proven sure fire literary skeletons with sufficient local color to intrigue the superficial and lazy.”
There is something about Faulkner’s quote that is beyond snippy. He seems to think Europe has better writers, but the reason Twain is revered in America is for the local color. I don’t want to go into a long defense of Twain, truthfully I like Hemmingway, Twain, and Faulkner.
Is there a lesson for writers to take away from lines like Virginia Wolfe who said of James Joyce’s book “Ulysses,” that it is “the work of a queasy undergraduate scratching his pimples,” or the below the belt, truly offensive comments by W. H. Auden on Robert Browning, “I don’t think Robert Browning was very good in bed. His wife probably didn’t care for him much. He snored and had fantasies about twelve year-old girls.”
It is easy to laugh at writers who snip at each other and we love it when one of them takes on a writer we share an abhorrence or dislike for, but beyond that consider the message within the message. They are just opinions and just like rear ends, we all have one. I can’t get through “Moby Dick,” finding the nonfictional sidebar about whaling a big bore; it stops me dead the two times I tried to read the novel, but others revere Melville, whom I believed was paid by the word. There are those who trash “The Great Gatsby.” I say those people can’t read.
Bottom line, is if you are a writer and you get insulted, trashed, and excoriated by others, remember that one person’s opinion is not a universal opinion. And if it does hurt, play a game, tell yourself that some opinions come not from thought and insight, but from the area of the body that everyone has, one that the dastardly pygmy brained idiot was sitting on when he wrote the comment, one created from indigestion and methane. Keep that image in mind when you are raked over the hot coals of literary cattiness.
Here is a link to more writers insults.http://flavorwire.com/188138/the-30-harshest-author-on-author-insults-in-history/view-all
And here is a link to my e-novels which might create laughs or gas.