Sassafras, or Maybe Just Sass

I’m all wound up today, throwing around all manner of four-letter words and waving my hands in the air when I talk.  All I can think about is sass, sass, sass.  So of course I went looking for more…

#1  —  James Baldwin, from his 1984 Paris Review interview, when asked about recognizing talent in a writer:  “Talent is insignificant.  I know a lot of talented ruins.  Beyond talent lie all the usual words: discipline, love, luck, but most of all, endurance.”

#2 —  William Faulkner, from his 1956 Paris Review interview, when asked if he’s under any obligation to his reader:  “I myself am too busy to care about the public.  I have no time to wonder who is reading me.  I don’t care about John Doe’s opinion on my work or anyone else’s.”

Sometimes I read these interviews, and I wonder what they’re really wanting to say, what they’re holding back, whether they want to just say this is all a bunch of %&*#@!^(!*$^.  I didn’t, however, think this about the Faulkner piece.  If you have a chance, read the whole thing.  It’s a hoot.  At one point, the Interviewer tells him, Some people say they can’t understand your writing, even after they have read it two or three times.  What approach would you suggest for them?  To which Faulkner says:  “Read it four times.”

#3 —  I chose a book I love — Mary Karr’s LIT — for my May book club.  I was downright giddy with pleasure when I did it.  The next day, another Mary Karr devotee said basically this:  Oh no no no.  I worship at the Marr Karr altar and, therefore, could never do that.  What if they hated it?!?!  

Well, sister, it’s going to happen.  I hear the train coming.  And I’ll just have to bite down on a big bar of Ivory soap and survive it.  Today one of my bookclubbers sent me an e-mail:  “I’m about 1/2 way through.  Does it ever get happy?”  To which I wrote back:  “I’m not big on happy books.  I like the survival-of-life stuff.”

Better get that bar of soap out and keep it at the ready.

5 thoughts on “Sassafras, or Maybe Just Sass

  1. MacDougal Street Baby

    I was at the library yesterday, hoping to pick up a few titles when I came across Erika Jong’s “Seducing the Demon, Writing for My Life.” I’m only 40 or so pages in but from the get go she had me hooked. It’s not about happy. It’s about your own truth. As long as you’re following it, spouting it, swallowing it, thinking about it, it’s all good.

  2. Laura

    “Does it ever get happy?”

    You should have said, “Yes, absolutely!!!”

    *shrug* Might as well help her read it with some optimism and hope, since she seems almost predisposed to disliking it. 🙂

    I once had a coworker who refused to even mention any movies around me because I apparently “hate all happy endings.” While I wouldn’t go that far, I do seem to favor the sad/ambiguous/bittersweet endings over the couple-finally-unites-at-the-airport endings. Can’t help it (and wouldn’t want to).

  3. Teri Post author

    The Faulkner interview is priceless. I had no idea what a rebel he was, how much he despised the whole literary experience. Hilarious.

    As for LIT, one bookclubber said today that she LOVES the book, can’t put it down, and wants to read THE LIARS CLUB. She thinks Mary Karr is brilliant. So there’s one!

  4. lisahgolden

    I buy Ivory Soap in bulk. Not kidding.

    Looks like you and I were having the same kind of day. I got an email from a friend who wanted to know if I was on the verge of killing someone. Um, no. I blogged out my crazy yesterday.

    I”m going to have to read that Faulkner interview for sure. I used to hate him. Too much human ugliness and spitting. Maybe with some years under my sash, I can better appreciate him. Chloe loves his stuff.

Comments are closed.