A New Lear; or, Daughter Dissed

We waited last week in an anon umbra for the expectant promise over at Literary Rejections on Display, an entertaining and informative site we visit periodically to check up on the latest trends in rejection slips and attitudes of those on the receiving end. Apparently, Writer Rejected, the hospitable host of LROD, had landed a paper airplane safely somewhere, an acceptance.

What Wasn’t Passed On” (New York Times, Dec. 8, 2011) is a familial, personal essay about a daughter who is disinherited by her father. We were reminded, of course, of the mad dad mother of them all, King Lear, and we posted our congratulations to the now somewhat less mysterious WR in a non-puckish comment, for the tone had grown serious, and we also realized a larger context of the personal theme, for the whole country has by now disinherited an entire generation of its young, and it appears to be headed toward disinheriting a generation of its old as well.

Yet we were also reminded of Faulkner’s Isaac McCaslin, who, in Faulkner’s “The Bear” (see Go Down, Moses), rejects his inheritance, insisting that no one can truly own the land, for the land inevitably has a complex history of giving and taking, of laying claims and laying hands.

“Nothing will come of nothing,” Lear tells his daughter, and Blake’s road of excess may indeed lead to a palace of wisdom, but what’s a palace emptied of its children and its old people? Where’s a fool when you need one? For maybe something does come from nothing, for “God bless the child that’s got his own.”

On Another Modest Proposal; or, Twitters with the Editors

We dropped in on our anon friends over at LROD this morning, reading the morning blogs over a cup of Joe, always interested in the latest rejection news, and followed a suggestion to an article by Bill Keller over at the New York Times Magazine, “Let’s Ban Books, or at Least Stop Writing Them,” about the time-consuming, low productivity, empty and worthless promise called writing a book. Bill knows, for in his position as executive editor at the Times, he’s seen many a sabbatical come back with sunburned hands holding a bellyflopped book. He even confesses he’s tried it twice, writing a book, both times coming up for air before finding the pearl, and he’s against the writing of any more books. Bill’s proposal is censorship fullproof: don’t ban books; ban the writing of books.

But these lazy cats at the Times are already writers, wallowing in ink and books, rich with paper and pens, we assume, expert at hammering out the text by deadline, so why do they need a sabbatical to write their boobook? Let them write it on their own time, like all us other hacks, for they’ve already a leg up on the process, not to mention free lunches with the agents, and twitters with the editors. That will separate the wheat from the chaff.

Yet a side benefit, though, should we adopt Bill’s idea to ban the writing of books, would be universal atonement for our guilt of not reading them.