Monday, April 19, 2010

Author v. Author

I gave Nicholas Sparks a hard time for criticizing Cormac McMarthy, but author-vs.-author smackdowns are nothing new.

Michelle Kerns, The Book Examiner, was kind enough to compile 50 of the best authorial insults. Here are some of my favorites.

Ernest Hemingway, according to Vladimir Navokov:
As to Hemingway, I read him for the first time in the early ‘forties, something about bells, balls and bulls, and loathed it.

Bells, Balls and Bulls would be an excellent name for an unauthorized Hemingway biography (or, at least, a Hemingway blog.)

William Faulkner, according to Ernest Hemingway:
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.

Yeah, Hemingway’s one to talk. He wrote with a pencil in one hand and a drink in the other. In fact, new game — read a Hemingway story and try to guess when he passed out on the page.

Voltaire, according to Charles Baudelaire:
I grow bored in France — and the main reason is that everybody here resembles Voltaire...the king of nincompoops, the prince of the superficial, the anti-artist, the spokesman of janitresses, the Father Gigone of the editors of Siecle.

Baudelaire took the Joakim Noah route and didn’t just diss the man. He dissed the locale. (Personally, I thought Voltaire was clever when I read him in college. Now, I realize how worthless cleverness is.)

John Updike, according to Gore Vidal:
I can’t stand him. 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.

See, Gore, this is why nobody likes you.

Bret Harte, according to Mark Twain:
Harte is a liar, a thief, a swindler, a snob, a sot, a sponge, a coward, a Jeremy Diddler, he is brim full of treachery, and he conceals his Jewish birth as carefully as if he considered it a disgrace. How do I know? By the best of all evidence, personal observation.

I am disappointed that Bret Hart never tried to avenge his namesake. Hart v. Twain — the sharpshooter v. the sharp wit — I’d drop $30 on a pay-per-view to watch.

As a final stray link, enjoy some passive-aggressive library signs.

-Jason Lea,

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