I’ve been reading Bartleby & Company, which is a novel about writer’s block. It puts me in mind of the first chapter of The Confessions of Zeno (last cigarette), or maybe some characters from Camus. It’s all meta, but that’s the zeitgeist; at least this is a good one.

The whole book is a series of reasons for not writing, people who didn’t write, people who destroyed their writing, people who didn’t finish, etc. Since I myself am the writer who doesn’t, it’s an attractive topic.

My father wrote a novel called Tenth which took as its theme the fact that great composers don’t finish their tenth symphonies, and our protagonist takes on the task of finishing one. A nice touch in Tenth is that the composer in question is Thomas Mann’s fictional Adrian Leverkuhn.

I don’t know why I can’t write. I haven’t since about 1995, really. It’s not that I think the world is deprived of some wonderful thing I have inside me. It’s more that I feel constipated and grumpy about it.

There are no mute, inglorious Miltons, save in the hallucinations of poets. The one sound test of a Milton is that he functions as a Milton. — H.L. Mencken

6 thoughts on “

  1. But you write here all the time. What more do you ask of yourself?
    That book about writers who don’t write sounds really interesting.

    1. I’d like to write something longer than 3 paragraphs, or something with structure, or something important, or a book that gets bound and sent to libraries. I guess I have a problem wanting to be my father, like lots of people.
      It is a fine book, Bartleby & Co.

      1. Libraries? You want to skip the booksellers altogether? Was your father an author?
        My father was a Renaissance Man who wasted his life on the insurance industry, and lived and died to regret it. A broken man with no conviction, no will. I want to be nothing like him.

      2. Structure or bound or important
        I have no idea what structure will best suit you, and I hope you happily find it — but in the meantime you’re still keeping me better entertained than most of the concerted efforts and billion-dollar infrastructure of the entire US media.

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