Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Writers are cunts: it's official

"Geniuses are traditionally difficult to live with" so John Carey tells us in his review of Jeffrey Meyers' new book Married to a Genius. Yes, I'm sure we've heard of these kinds of problems. Apparently Shakespeare left the toilet seat up all the time.

Carey tells us that "[a]ccording to D. H. Lawrence you must have 'something vicious in you' to be a writer. Graham Greene said you needed a splinter of ice in your heart." Familiar quotations of course, though I would have thought these were reflections on the writing process. That is, they're telling us one mustn't become overly sentimental when writing because it ruins the work.

Meyers' book features biographical sketches of nine writers with marriage as a theme. "Each study is brilliant and arresting, and they reflect fascinatingly on one another" says JC, although, rather than detail what is brilliant and arresting, the rest of the review is a summary of the juicy gossip. He does suggest that Meyers "reveals how subtly writers' lives infiltrate their fiction" though the only evidence offered isn't exactly original let alone subtle: Tolstoy's wife inspired The Kreutzer Sonata, Nora Barnacle inspired Molly Bloom. Phew, I'll have to sit down!

I wonder if Meyers defines why each of the nine writers is a genius? Carey certainly doesn't. He takes it as a given. The most important thing, it seems, is to chuckle and fake outrage at their extra-literary foibles. That's John Carey folks, the Chief Literary Critic of the Times.

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