Many years ago a guy I knew who wrote about garbage for a trade magazine devoted to that subject introduced me to an expression that described garbage offered up in the guise of writing – “written with the wrist.” That was in the late ’50s or early ’60s, about the same time that Truman Capote characterized Jack Kerouac’s work as “…not writing. That’s typing.”
Well, what would Truman say today? Most current novels are unreadable, the bulk of nonfiction is unresearched and more often than not concocted at the behest of somebody with an agenda. You want me to name names? Just pop over to Amazon and check out the boring “bests.”
But the book guys are not my target today, I’m really excited about the topical writers in the the big, national publications, both paper and digital. Give ’em a keyboard and they’re off and running. They hand their drivel to headline writers (the real stars of the periodical world) and they whip up something titillating about Chris Christy, Syria, Kim Jong-un, Flappy Birds, bit coins or any of hundreds of other same olds.
Today we have Peggy Noonan virtually regurgitating the Blair papers in the Wall Street Journal. A week ago Tom Friedman in the Times sang the same old anti-Israel song that he always sings, but with a new pro-Kerry refrain and bass line that went bds-bds-BDS-bds. As I write Bloomberg has posted a Jeffrey Goldberg piece on, gasp, “No Chance of Success with Iran. Here’s a sample Krauthammer headline in the Washington Post: “Obamacare’s War on Jobs.” And today the great David Brooks in the Times takes first prize blathering on about te prodigal son, trying to prove who knows what.
But, hey, you know what? I think we have the answer to last week’s burning question: “what do the traveling salesmen do for a living now?”
They write newspaper columns and blogs!