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Fiction

Blog, Books, Fiction

Order More Sackcloth

The touch of malicious joy I expected to feel about this news story didn’t materialize because the whole thing’s so depressing. Kosoko Jackson, who is black and gay, has been freelancing as a “sensitivity reader” at major publishing houses — which means, as you are no doubt aware, working as a member of the imagination police screening manuscripts for things that might trigger offense in any number of identity groups. In what Jennifer Senior in the NYT called a “karmic boomerang,” Jackson’s debut YA novel, A Place for Wolves, has incited the wrath of some of those very groups who’ve come at him like a torpedo of bees, to the point where he has asked to have the book withdrawn. He has presumably been sent somewhere for regrooving, after which I expect he’ll have a tough time writing a sentence for a long time to come.

It does no good to cite oh anyone, E.M. Forster, how we’d have to set fire to A Passage to India to satisfy the inquisitors re who gets to imagine what or whom. I’ll just invoke the cry of Arthur Wellesley, first Duke of Wellington in 1824, “Publish and be damned,” or I would except I’ve just discovered he was one of the architects of the Raj who wallowed in plunder…. Rats.

Song of the Day: Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Umqombothi

 

Books, Fiction

Too Misty

Outstanding creative writing advice via Muriel Spark. This is the opening of her novel Finishing School:

“You begin,” he said, “by setting your scene. You have to see your scene, either in reality or in imagination. For instance, from here you can see across the lake. But on a day like this you can’t see across the lake, it’s too misty. You can’t see the other side.” Rowland took off his reading glasses to stare at his creative writing class whose parents’ money was being thus spent: two boys and three girls around sixteen to seventeen years of age, some more, some a little less. “So,” he said, “you must just write, when you set your scene, ‘the other side of the lake was hidden in mist.’ Or if you want to exercise imagination, on a day like today, you can write, ‘The other side of the lake was just visible.’ But as you are setting the scene, don’t make any emphasis as yet. It’s too soon, for instance, for you to write, ‘The other side of the lake was hidden in the fucking mist.’ That will come later. You are setting your scene. You don’t want to make a point as yet.”

Song of the Day: In a Mist, Bix Beiderbecke