Maybe I'm just too bitter to truly appreciate other people's stories of love/success, but something about this collection struck me as a kind of braggMaybe I'm just too bitter to truly appreciate other people's stories of love/success, but something about this collection struck me as a kind of bragging, self-indulgent repetition the same basic story. Like a repeated humblebrag of, "Not only am I cool enough to have lived in New York City, but I'm clever enough to have left it and poetic enough to write about it in a way that is gracious enough to admit my faults. Also, I am a white woman who is happily married to a man who has helped me stay financially stable through all my missteps." (I realize not every author in this collection fits this description. I'm exaggerating because I am very bitterly none of these things.) Reading a bunch of stories about how people squandered their privileged New York opportunities and still managed to find success elsewhere got tiresome very quickly.
So many of these writers seemed to move to New York with a sense of entitlement, and in spite of their efforts to dramatize their struggles and their eventual break from the city, the fact that they are all published authors who have found success because of those struggles...makes it kind of seem disingenuous, like they sought out their troubles so they'd have something dramatic to write about. Many of them basically admit that that's what they did. Like, even Valerie Eagle, who had a hard life before New York City and faced some serious consequences due to the drug addiction she developed there, started out in the city with a stable home and job thanks to her aunt. Even stories like Eagle's, which somewhat diverged from type, struck me as repetitive because of this common narrative arc of naive-hope-met-with-harsh-reality-followed-by-success.
Maybe I can't help feeling like the authors all share Meghan Daum's perspective in "My Misspent Youth" (the actual essay, not the introductory part where she kind of hedges her sense of entitlement and acknowledges the fact that New York is excruciatingly expensive), where she writes "Self-entitlement is a quality that has gotten a bad name for itself and yet, in my opinion, it's one of the best things a student can get out of an education. Much of my success and happiness is a direct result of it."
So, okay, these are a bunch of entitled writers reflecting on their shared decision to leave New York...but maybe their entitlement is more of an asset than I'm willing to admit. They're all good writers, and they all have clever and insightful things to say. It's not their fault I kind of resent the uniting premise of the collection they're published in....more
Too much disdain for the writing process (and unkindness toward editors) for my taste. That was my main issue, but I found plenty of other aspects ofToo much disdain for the writing process (and unkindness toward editors) for my taste. That was my main issue, but I found plenty of other aspects of the book to be a tad annoying as well.
Poehler writes in a jokey, conversational style that is okay for short spurts, but seems grating and forced in longer doses. I liked her attempts to recognize her privileged position as a successful white lady, but was less impressed by her constant reminding the reader that she worked hard and used lots of drugs and has quirky opinions and a kind of weird face. She has moments of insight, some interesting anecdotes, and is clearly trying to put forth a positive perspective on things...but more often than not I found myself liking Amy Poehler just a little bit less for the way she went about throwing this book together....more
Confusing. I wasn't sure whether I was meant to be entertained and informed, or just mildly irritated and challenged by weird perspectives. InterestinConfusing. I wasn't sure whether I was meant to be entertained and informed, or just mildly irritated and challenged by weird perspectives. Interesting ones...but ones that seem not to have an understanding of just how hard it is to effectively communicate internet sarcasm....more
Simultaneously disheartening and encouraging for a wannabe-editor such as myself.
First, the disheartening: It's already outdated. It doesn't discuss emSimultaneously disheartening and encouraging for a wannabe-editor such as myself.
First, the disheartening: It's already outdated. It doesn't discuss email or similarly-recent word processing software, nor does it go into the related realms of e-publishing and self-publishing. Many of the details about how editors spend their days (making phone calls, marking up physical manuscripts, etc.) seem irrelevant in the digital age. Many of the essays make the publishing industry sound a bit too cutthroat/stressful/political for my taste. The reminder that the publishing industry is for-profit (and hence manuscripts must be picked based on their marketability) kind of crushed my idealistic desire to spearhead a literary renaissance. Apparently experience is really important. Like, a decade of experience minimum. (BUT I WANT IT NOW.) Do editors ever have time to read for pleasure?? It seems like all reading becomes a form of research, like this manuscript-hunting, commercial mindset (necessarily) takes over the editor's life. Like, I guess editing is itself pleasurable. But...money is gross. (And it's made very clear that editors aren't particularly well-paid. Which is fine with me. Because money is gross.) Must an editor always have "moneymoneymoney" in the back of her head?
On the bright side: The thankless, anonymous artistry of the craft. The full-time immersion in the world of literature. The constant placating of authors, being a go-between for publishing professionals and aspiring artists (authors). The attention to detail. The fact that it's necessary to be harsh, blunt, honest, thorough... The necessity of staying true to yourself, trusting your instincts, and taking work that you're passionate about. Basically, every detail about what it means to be an editor, the type of person who's well-suited to the career, the humility and the passion and the pragmatism alongside the romantic sort of idealism that keeps editors going... Everything that these editors write about their careers--both that which is written with love and that which is written with frustration, that which is written to discourage and to disillusion as well as that which is written to inspire--makes me want to join their ranks.
So, yeah, this book kind of makes me want to cry. Happy tears. Relieved for the reaffirmation that this is the career for me. (But also tears of frustration. Disappointed that it will take so long, require so much political/economic/social savvy, and probably lead to a whole different world from the one that filled me with such hope when I read about it in these outdated pages.)...more
An immensely accessible introduction to Cummings, full of insights into his life and poetry as well as interesting analysis (and criticism) of his poeAn immensely accessible introduction to Cummings, full of insights into his life and poetry as well as interesting analysis (and criticism) of his poetry. Definitely made me appreciate Cummings, but also place him in context of his literary and artistic peers (like his friend William Carlos Williams)...ultimately I think I prefer Emily Dickinson's nursery-rhyme readability (which still includes some of the capitalization and punctuation trends that make Cummings intriguing) and Williams's straightforwardness, and Plath/Frost/Rilke/Browning/Shakespeare/Donne/Blake's conventionality. Just my personal taste. I still kind of love Cummings, though. I think. But I don't think I would've been able to like Cummings nearly so much if it weren't for Marks....more
Stretches could be dry or fail to hold my interest due to the datedness of the Manifest Destiny-esque plotline, and the accompanying racist mindset (aStretches could be dry or fail to hold my interest due to the datedness of the Manifest Destiny-esque plotline, and the accompanying racist mindset (albeit a satirical one, involved in a complicated self-criticism along with the criticism of the "savage" native peoples the narrator encounters)....more