Sunday, March 14, 2010

Rainy weekend roaming

The Lambda Literary Foundation has revamped its website. Gorgeous! And full of interesting stuff. If you noodle around long enough you might even come across my smiling face, in a photo with Dorothy Allison and others at Lambda's first LGBT writers' retreat several summers ago.

The Rainbow Book Fair is a couple weekends away, at CUNY's Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies. I should make myself go.

Amusing, via the Guardian: what it's like to spend a week without reading.

Yes, I'm a bit out of sorts three days into these howling rains. But I don't think that's why I found Jennifer Schuessler's piece "Take This Job and Write It" in today's New York Times Book Review tedious. Jeez, do they have a cycle on which they pull these tired, smarmily anti-working-class homilies out of the bin for yet another airing? It's as if there's a checklist to work through.
  1. Claim that few to no writers are actual workers: check
  2. Make fun of "proletarian novel" of the 1930s: check
  3. Dismiss all possible literary worth of working-class fiction: check
  4. Aver magical disappearance of production work (somehow, even though things keep being produced): check
  5. Assert that all labor has shifted to offices: check; and yet
  6. Dismiss office work as not real labor: check; but just to be sure
  7. Comment only on books "about work" that are actually only about management and administrative staffers in offices, not the vast majority of office employees who are wage workers doing data entry, clerical work, etc.: check
  8. Just in case you haven't made your case, come right out and announce that fiction that is about work is incapable of qualifying as literature: check
  9. Conclude with fatuous bourgeois-idological tautology about work and writing and writing about work: check
There's one more point that is never made explicit and it's an odd elision. This is that more and more, the fiction that gets published is written by people whose paid labor consists of teaching writing. MFA recipients teaching MFA students. What this means for the books we get is worth considering. If your whole life consists of writing, teaching about writing, and reading, if your work life is in this way so nearly unified with your creative life, surely this has a major effect on your creative output. If we got the chance to read more fiction by people who make their living in other ways, by wage workers above all--people who clean bedpans in nursing homes, who teach first graders, who drive buses or pick lettuce or, yes, type and file and enter data as so many of us do in this era of low-wage capitalism--what might that literature consist of? Ah, if only we had the chance to find out.