Mandei o livro pro editor há quase duas semanas, segurei umas 30 páginas comigo, mexi nelas quase todos os dias. Isso deve ser igual àquela compulsão que algumas pessoas têm de arrancar fios de cabelo da própria cabeça o tempo todo. Das 30 páginas que não mandei, depois de muitas delas arrancadas, sobraram menos da metade. A esse processo denominamos ‘capinagem de cretinice’. Quando identifico um trecho como cretinice, vou lá e arranco do texto. Usando para isto, claro, somente meus próprios parâmetros cretinos. Além de mim, tive dois leitores, dois amigos leram os primeiros capítulos.
Minha cabeça está noutras coisas há umas duas semanas, já comecei a escrever outro livro. Eu achava que não ia escrever mais nada – só os contos – depois do primeiro esforço. Mas não foi assim, então o resto da paranóia não me interessa.
Está bem na ativa a Revista Bala, reforços em livros por Bruna Beber e Santiago Nazarian.
Call me naive, but I contend that what will save this business–the only thing left that print can do that the Internet and radio and TV can’t do–is putting more stories in the paper that don’t have to be in the paper.
(…) Get out of the newsroom; then, get out of your car. And preferably, go someplace that you haven’t been to before. You’ll likely end up with a good story.
Michael Chabon na Details. Artigo sobre workshops literários, mais melhor do que isso.
Você olha o tamanho do texto, pensa que não gostou tanto assim de Wonderboys, que você é muito, muito superior a qualquer livro que vira filme com Tobey Maguire, lembra que tem preguiça de ler em inglês e – bom, aí quem não tem tempo pra explicar sou eu. Suit yourself [ou continue andando pelado].
p.s.: Henry Miller é como a adolescência.
Almost twenty years and seven books after getting my MFA in Creative Writing from the University of California, Irvine – and seventy years after the founding of the original, the Iowa Writer´s Workshop – I still get questions about writing programs, as if my having come through one was a flukey detour like a hitch in a Goofy suit at Disneyland, and the institution itself a compound of rumor and scam. Somebody asked about my time at Irvine, with a hint of dubiety, at a reading just the other night. Journalists, critics, would-be students, regular people, they all have their doubts. Do writing workshops have any real value? Are they helpful to young writers? Do they impose standards of style and subject matter, perhaps unwittingly, on their graduates? And, sometimes with a prosecutorial wink: can anybody really be taught how to write? I have answers for these people. Put briefly: yes, yes, I don´t believe so but maybe, and yes. I wrote my first novel at Irvine, and one of my teachers there sent it to his agent, who found a publisher for the book. I´m kind of a poster boy for the more tangible benefits that a good writing program can bestow. And I have written elsewhere about the help and hard reading I received from my teachers and fellow students at UCI. But the most important thing that happened to me as a graduate student in creative writing had little directly to do with writing or publishing or agents or subject matter or style. When I started the program in 1985 I was a little shit; by the time I left Irvine I was not just a published novelist, I was something that had begun, inwardly, to resemble a man.
This is not going to be an argument for some universal advantage conferred by the institution of the writing program; I am sure that graduate fiction workshops regularly turn out little shits by the dozens. I´m just going to try to talk about what I believe it was that happened to me while I was there.
Henry Miller, I think I should begin, was my great literary hero from the ages of sixteen to about nineteen, and on the assumption that you haven´t recently dipped into Tropic of Cancer or Tropic of Capricorn or Black Spring or the three volumes that make up The Rosy Crucifixion I will summarize the work – and undersell it – according to my purpose here: it´s basically one long novel about the exaltation and despair, in New York and Paris, of a little shit named Henry Miller. The Henry Miller presented in the fiction is a drunk, a cad, a loser; an angry, misogynistic fuck-up with delusions of grandeur, oceanic ambition, lamentable habits of personal grooming, and the profound detestation for money and the material world that only the born cadger can maintain. “All I ask of life,” as the narrator of Tropic of Cancer approvingly quotes his friend the novelist Van Norden, “is a bunch of books, a bunch of dreams, and a bunch of cunt.” For a few crucial years that was my own secret little-shit motto – or so, at least, I told myself. I curated a personal pantheon of shitheels, of musicians, actors, painters, writers and directors, from Charles Mingus to Picasso to Marlon Brando to Jean-Luc Godard, whose work or whose biography seemed to be replete with examples of the kind of giddily anti-social, why-the-fuck-not?, mock-Napoleonic self-involvement and hound-doggishness I thought I admired. The Miller hero – my hero – does what he wants, when he wants to, whether it makes any sense or not, even when doing so may hurt or bring sorrow to another. He is not merely contradictory like the rest of us but doggedly, programmatically so. He is both a clown, a cuckold, capable of lacerating self-mockery, and a pompous bastard, self-important and ‘big-souled.’ He is capable of soaring transports of fellow feeling and the most petty acts of impotent revenge. Most of all, he treats the people around him, friends, enemies, lovers, with a cheerful, even lyric, contempt. They are the matter of his work, the furnishing of his dreams and nightmares, the object of his fixations, the characters in the tawdry circus-cum-back-alley opera of his life. If they are women, they are his cunts.
It´s this last element, so crucial to the work of Henry Miller, that gives the game away. When I was twenty years old, the following statement would at once have outraged and made sense to me: I knew nothing about women. It´s just a sappy and worthless generalization to me now, empty of meaning. But at the time I thought that “women” was a category, a field, like post-Parker jazz or varieties of marijuana, that you could study and master and “know something about.” At twenty, if you are a callow young man – and I think the man of twenty pretty much defines the term – then your callowness consists almost entirely in this variety of belief, that life consists of mastering the particulars, memorizing the lineups, accumulating the trivia and lore, in knowing how to trace the career of drummer Aynsley Dunbar or get a girl to go to bed with you and your best friend, as an expression of your existential freedom and complete disregard for the fact that she is a person, and she likes you, or him, and you´re actually kind of breaking her heart.
Misogyny comes naturally to a young man in his late teens; it is a function of the powerful homosocial impulses that flower along fraternity row, that drove the mod movements of the mid-sixties and the late seventies, that lie at the heart of every all-male rock band formed by men of that age. Because I was bright and a would-be artiste my own misogyny wore a beret, as it were, and quoted Nietszche. But it was just – and I don´t mean to excuse it with that adverb¿garden variety late-teenaged, homosocial misogyny as practiced by young men all over the world. It certainly didn´t constitute any kind of philosophical program or post-modern structure of morality. It was a phase, a plankton bloom in the brain, a developmental stage, albeit one that found ample reinforcement, if not glorification, in culture both popular and high-brow, in the Rolling Stones “Stupid Girl” and Woody Allen´s best movies, in Jorge Luis Borges, in William Shakespeare.
I don¿t know how much of this Millerite misogyny was reflected in my writing at the time; a fair amount, I suppose. You can see clear traces of it in The Mysteries of Pittsburgh and its mournful ghost in my short story “Millionaires.” And I don´t know if I would, in time, have emerged from this stage on my own. People have argued more or less persuasively that our culture – okay, our entire civilization – is founded on misogyny, or that in its current state it represents a collective case of arrested adolescent development, and I guess even a man who outgrows the little shit never leaves him entirely behind. But when I showed up at Irvine to start my first year as the youngest member of the MFA fiction workshop, I was not ready for what I found there: a room full of grown ups, more than half of them women. Some of these women were married, one of them had a grown child of her own. Without taking themselves half as seriously as I did, they were all twice as serious about what they were doing. They were better read, more disciplined, more widely traveled, and far less impressed with me than I was. If they were feminists – and I am sure that each of them was – they were practiced and experienced feminists, versed in theory and tested if not hardened by the real world. And most of these women, even those who were not much older than I was, were finished – long since finished – with the charms, real or imaginary, of little shits.
I want to stress that what followed was not just some rude awakening or shakedown cruise where I tried to get these women to sleep with me and one by one they shot me down. Okay, so there was some of that, but the fact of the matter is that I had been on a losing streak with women for a long time – at least it felt like a long time – and had already begun to see reflected, in the eyes of some of the girls I got nowhere with, a certain weariness, or distrust, or even distaste, at my displays of Milleresque big-souled callowness. What happened at Irvine was that I found myself, for three hours once a week, in a room in which my traditional enterprise¿the great Van Norden dream¿was entirely, and thrillingly, beside the point. We had work to do, and we were lucky enough to have been granted a couple of years of freedom and time to do it. The people in the workshop, but especially the women, and especially the women who were in the full middle of their lives, knew – they could testify to – just how rare and marvelous such a gift truly was. They had left real jobs, made real sacrifices, to come to Irvine. They had mortgages and health problems, troubled marriages, debts and obligations. And so I was obliged, or at least I felt that I was, to rise to the standard they set: in their writing, for the treatment of human emotion and relationships; in their lives for seizing this chance to learn and share and get immersed in the work; and in the workshop itself, women and men, for undertaking that collective work with respect, with charity, with tolerance, and above all – most frightening to me at the time – with no patience for the pretense and callowness and trite anti-social pose of some little shit. I think that´s the only cure, in the end, for the little shit: regular exposure to the healing rays of healthy disillusion, and in particular the hard-earned skepticism of grown women. Call it the Yoko Ono effect.
We are accustomed to repeating the cliche, and to believing, that “our most precious resource is our children.” But we have plenty of children to go around, God knows, and as with Doritos, we can always make more. The true scarcity we face is of practicing adults, of people who know how marginal, how fragile, how finite their lives and their stories and their ambitions really are, but who find value in this knowledge, and even a sense of strange comfort, because they know their condition is universal, is shared. You bring your little story to the workshop, and sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn´t; and then you´re gone, and it´s time for somebody else to have the floor.
E A PERGUNTA QUE EU ESTAVA PROCURANDO ERA
Não num sentido Harry Potter, mas… sério. Vocês não ficam de saco cheio, não?
O EMPREGO DO FALCON
Fotojornalista de guerra no Diário de um Fotógrafo, de Martin Fuchs.