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Can’t Read My Can’t Read My

Writers fuckin’ hate other writers. Old writers hate young writers. Young writers hate old writers. Women writers resent male writers.  Men don’t even regard women.  Teachers hate their students. Students want to run their teachers over and take their place. Everyone really hates New Yorker writers.

Here’s why:  money, prizes, acclaim, talent, and staying power. Not enough to go around. This  article in New York Magazine is pretty benign, snoozy even, but there is a little penis envy to enjoy.

Here are some things writers have said to me over the years: I really love so and so, too bad his new novel isn’t that good. I liked her novel a lot, I did, but did it really deserve the Pulitzer? He’s a great stylist, a writer’s writer, but does it really add upHe’s a really good writer, it’s too bad he doesn’t sell. He stopped writing good books like a decade ago, but of course I have the utmost respect. I’m not saying he’s selling out, but zombies?

What is the nastiest thing you’ve ever said about another writer?

51 Responses

  1. “I read the first page and a half of THE LOST SYMBOL and said…

    ‘BUT I ALREADY READ THE DA VINCI CODE!!!’

    …so why do I gotta pay another thirty bucks??!!!”

  2. I think I called the Twilight chick a hack. Too harsh?

    I once literally prayed that a writer whom I intensely disliked would not get her memoir sold. How’s that for spiritual-mindedness? It showed me how ill-will can cloud your thinking; her writing is pretty bad, and no amount of prayer could get her published at this point.

    • And let me be the first to ask: is that you in the photo? I had almost the same haircut when I was a kid.

      • George Clooney! Ha!

      • OMG, I knew I was treading on thin ice. And, like Georgie-Boy here, the bad haircut rendered me similarly androgynous, albeit in the Jodie Foster mold. I’ve only seen tiny photos of Betsy, and my eyesight is poor; I could easily pass her in the street without recognizing her. Oh, well, one could do worse than be mistaken for George Clooney as a child.

    • Everyone said she needed twelve editors and Bella is a Mary Sue. My ‘”bright” daughter read them and loved them. Can’t talk me into it.

    • I neglected to mention that the writer in question has personally insulted me and some of my dearest friends. I don’t care what kind of crap gets published as long as mine does also.

  3. I said about Marilynn Robinson’s Gilead that it was awfully boring even if she is a wonderful writer. Sometimes a gifted writer can bore you to death.

  4. “She’s a talentless hack on the make.”

  5. “These fucking people are fucking graduate students and they don’t have a shit’s clue. They couldn’t write a fucking grocery list. Fuck it all to fuck.”

  6. “You want honesty? I’ll give you honesty . . . It’s time you quit fooling yourself. I don’t care what so-and-so said about your first chapter, even a chimp can write the first act of Hamlet—but the second act always sucks. You couldn’t plot your way out of a room with five open doorways, you infodump all over the floor, and the damned double dashes and ellipses are getting on my last nerve.

    “Of course your friends are gonna say they like it, out of pity, but they’re all sharing those glances and small smiles behind your back, you wannabe hack. You talk a good game, but if you had any talent or skill, you’d have a book out already. Get bigger desk drawers, because that’s where it’s all going. Or just save a tree and some kilobytes and just shut the &%&$ up already. No one gives a damn.”

    And then the mirror gets all blurry. So I leave the bathroom and get back to work. Because what the fuck do I know about it, anyway? Bitch.

  7. I don’t hate writers, but I do hate some of the stupid shit they say. Things like:

    “I’d never written so much as a 5th grade book report, but the whole story came to me in my sleep!”

    “Writing’s a lot easier than working!”

    “And then the agent called and begged to see my manuscript. I was shocked!”

    “I’m a neurosurgeon in my real life. This writing thing is just my hobby.”

    “I thought vampires were cool and wrote the whole series at my kitchen counter while my babies took their afternoon naps.”

  8. “what 16-year-old boy knows what hydrangeas smell like? this is MFA writing, for fuck’s sake. there should be a victorian snuff box by page 12. jesus.”

  9. “Heartbreaking Work. . .” (D.Eggars) sucks. Frisbie, Frisbie, Frisbie. The real story is about his sister.

  10. How about the nastiest thing I ever said to another writer? Big whoops. I was talking to a very well-known writer of fantasy, as we sat at the deathbed of a mutual friend. (You can’t make this shit up). We got on the subject of his books and I told him I dug his short stories, but his epic series… well, I got halfway through it and threw it against a wall because I hated the main character so much. He said, “oh yeah, he’s based on me.”

  11. There’s not a nasty bone in my body.

  12. You’re not slamming Colson Whitehead and his new zombie book, are you?

    I probably won’t read it. People who read zombie books are idiots.

    • I heard a Fresh Air segment with Colson Whitehead just the other day, pitching his zombie novel. I’m not rushing out to buy the book, but it doesn’t seem like too far a stretch from the zombies in our midst to treading lightly in the Hamptons, aware of all the inquisitive eyes. And if zombie novels are keeping the unicorns and mermaids at bay, I’m cool with that.

  13. I don’t do nasty well unless I’m talking about myself. But never mind that WHERE did you get that picture of Clooney? Now that’s nasty.

  14. There’s no one like Tolstoy.

  15. I can do better.

  16. I’ve typed the truth in this box three times, and erased it every time because it’s so ugly. Namaste, motherfuckers.

    • Jeez, Shanna, just sign in as “Anonymous” and unload. Don’t forget the fake email addy as well.

      • It’s not the need for anonymity. I just feel like an asshole for continuing to harbor a resentment that (like all my resentments, of which there are many) isn’t hurting anyone but me.

  17. I told one writer she should have used me for her proofreader.

  18. Every time someone talks about Jorie Graham, I mime her flipping her hair behind her shoulders.

    Also “I fucking hate [poet’s name redacted], she went to Harvard and Iowa and she thinks she’s all cool. But she sucks.” Not original, or clever, or even terribly cutting. Oh, but it’s true.

    Poets can be the nastiest because there is no pie, no money at stake.

  19. I couldn’t get beyond the first sentence. It was filled with grammatical errors, and so I shuddered to think what would follow. And no, Word doesn’t count as a grammar checker.

  20. No wonder you self published.

    I didn’t say it to her face but it’s all I could think as I sat there listening to her theories on writing.

  21. I sent a note to a newspaper editor complaining about the poor advice given by their syndicated “home improvement” columnist (someone unfamiliar with our region and marginally conversant in practical repair methods) and inquired if the columnist’s lack of common sense was the result of a head injury sustained on a job site. The editor found my comment so amusing, she wrote an article about readers’ complaints – and used my letter as an example.

  22. She has an MFA in Creative Grammar.

  23. Preface: I don’t hate other writers and I try to be kind in my treatment of them.

    Worst thing: “Cynthia, you get the same five minutes to read the other poets get. Take it or leave it, though I really prefer that you leave it.”

  24. first of all: i’m drunk. secondly, i did a google image search on that photo thinking it’d be stock and it’s george fuckin’ clooney. well color me turned on. of james frey i always tell people who have no interest in the book/show biz or even Oprah (ooh! i automatically capitalized her name!) that of all the people i went to see at readings and stuff, he was among the top when it came to authenticity and generosity but i don’t think he’s a great writer. back when i still read gawker someone did a spot on imitation of his style that was so funny! but i think what he was saying in million little penises was really true, guys! it meant a lot to me! and had O not forgotten this under pressure from her – whoever she respects enough to have done what she did – she’d have perhaps said hey, you know what? sam adams at 5 in the afternoon is a very good idea. that O gave JF 2 shows in her farewell season, well the fact i recorded but haven’t watched them says it all. and the NYT is skewering her – what the hey is that about?

  25. What can possible be said that is new or interesting about a zombie? They give these zombies ‘life’. I thought they were dead. I think they should at least define the parameter.

  26. Confession: I felt uncomfortable reading Patti Smith’s New Yorker piece about her stealing the encyclopedia. I know she’s an admitted shoplifter because I read it in Just Kids. It’s just that I don’t recall the encyclopedia anecdote. Was that in the book? Maybe it was and I missed it. I didn’t get a chance to finish the book before it had to be returned to the library. But I’m thinking the anecdote wasn’t in the book,and what strikes me as fishy is that if she actually stole this encyclopedia as a kid, she would’ve put it in the book, not saved it for a later New Yorker piece. I couldn’t help but feel that she’d invented the anecdote when called upon by the magazine to produce another shoplifting story. But maybe I’m totally out in left field. Was it in the book?

  27. I don’t get the George Clooney pic as an illustration of this post. That might be the worst thing I’ve said. Except for the major shit I talked on a fellow writer at a workshop, which was basically somewhere along the lines of “Who did she have to blow to get in here? Because her writing is for shit. Who uses ‘farty’ as an adjective?” She had big tits, though. Almost 10 years later, I still think that’s how she got in…

  28. I don’t believe in trashing other writers in public. I save that for intimate lunches with my friends.

  29. Ms. Lerner – I really like your website, but this kind of post I can do without. Why talk about hate and dislike and make generalizations like all writers hate other writers? I am a “writer” but have never felt an ill-will toward other writers. There is enough of the pie to go around for everyone!

  30. To my recollection never wrote anything nasty about another writer but after reading this article I’m seriously tempted to craft some nastiness about several. Too bad I don’t have time–which these guys clearly have too much of.

  31. Because these are second hand wedding dresses you’re looking through, NOT newly designed ones.
    She may well try on lots of types and colors but can’t genuinely
    choose on which she is going to take. The large waistband
    is completed with a bow at the back, as the slit detail provides comfort
    as well as elegance.

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