Coming Clean

by Patrick on July 15, 2009

Today, I’m going to do something a little bit adventurous, a little bit risky, a little bit — let’s face it — crazy.  I’m pulling back the curtain, revealing something of the magic of how this blog runs and how I do what I do.  It might be an edifying experience for some of you, or it might be a waste of your time.

You may have noticed that once or twice a week, I write a long-ish, thought out post about some issue facing publishing, some literary trend or how some old, long-dead idea is actually really great and ought to be reconsidered.  You further may have noticed that on the remaining days, I post links to other websites, often with little or no commentary.  While I certainly feel that curation is one of the goals of this blog (how else would you find out about funny reviews of bad movies, for instance), I will let you in on this little secret:  the days I post links are the days that I am either a) lazy or b) totally tapped out of ideas.  Shocking, I know.  It might change how you view me as a blogger, as a bookseller, hell, as a man.  But it’s the truth, the straight dope, as the kids say.  Now you know.

I write this little preamble so that you will consider the links that follow a little bit more carefully than you would my usual accumulation of garbage.  Because these links are really, really good.  You should click them.

  • If you haven’t already done so, click over to The Elegant Variation and check out Mark’s lengthy, fascinating talk with Joseph O’Neill.  He’s posted three parts of the interview so far, with the fourth and concluding section going up tomorrow.  Reading the sections of the interview, I’m struck by O’Neill’s candor, particularly on the subject of influences.  From part 2 of the interview:  “TEV: Will there be any risk of seepage when that happens?  Joseph O’Neill: I hope so. I mean, you want a little bit of that. You know, you’ve got be grown up about influences. I think you’ve either got it or you haven’t. By ‘it’ I mean the knack of writing something valuable that’s your own. So if you are worried about being influenced, it’s almost a pointless worry. Either you’re going to be influenced or you’re not going to be influenced—it doesn’t change anything, it’s all about whether you have the knack. Anyway, the alternative is to not read anything. And no one can be a writer without being familiar with other writers.”  I’ve never believed these writers who claim their books to be “wholly original” or “unlike anything that has preceded it.” Don’t get me wrong, innovation is important, but everyone draws from those who came before.  (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)