Dorothy Parker a not-recent syndicated columnist with a razor-sharp tongue had a column under the name of “Constant Reader”. She read one of those syrupy romance books, the kind that simply drips with sugar and in reviewing it she wrote as if she had a lisp. “Twonstant weeda fwoed up.” Maybe it’s the wickedness in me, but I can’t help taking pleasure in that!
Of course, I’d hate to have been the author of that book she reviewed. Come to think of it, I have been the author of more than one book that’s been trashed by reviewers. My books just don’t sell. Still, if I could write as Dorothy Parker wrote I’d have no trouble.
Writers of all kinds offer themselves for target practice, don’t they? One poor poet wrote a two-liner and a critic remarked on it. “Quite good, but with long dry stretches.”
The Irish playwright and conversationalist Oscar Wilde had a go at no less a figure than Charles Dickens. Of Dickens’ telling of the death of Little Nell, Wilde said something like, “You would have to have a heart of stone not to laugh out loud at the death of little Nell.”
Pity the poor authors that take themselves too seriously.
But I think that’s one of the secrets of a happy life: to be able to make the best of and find pleasure in whatever the result is of…whatever. Now I don’t know how the people who live like that manage it but I’m pleased for them.
The most recent Time magazine offers a scientific guide on how to make yourself happy. What a load of banal claptrap. The scientific guide to making yourself happy is essentially: “Do the things that make you happy.” It reminds me of the man who went to a psychiatrist with his troubles. When the session timed out the psych doctor told him, “Go home and pull yourself together.” On his way out the door the distressed man said, “My thing that pulls myself together is busted.”
Rejection is a killer for so many of us—isn’t it? Wish I could be like Snoopy, my Peanuts hero, on his best days. He keeps sending manuscripts off to publishing editors (obviously a lot of them must went to the same editor) and he continues to get rejections. One rejection note he’s reading has to be read in a voice that rises to a crescendo. It had something like: “Will you stop sending me your useless manuscripts. I hate them, they’re a waste of time, I’m sick and tired looking at them. Stop sending them!” Snoopy walks off grinning with ear-to-ear pleasure and says, “I just love to hear editors beg.”
Atta boy, Snoopy!
Then there was that caustic book review I read that said, “Professor ‘X’ has written his book again.”
But there’s no accounting for taste, is there? What’s ambrosia to some is sawdust to others. What to some is like a bowl of strawberries and ice-cream is like licking carpet to others. Oh well.
I’m not at all thinking of those poor souls who live in “life-destroying” circumstances (Holy Father, the poor…….) when I say this:
Maybe if we can do it it’s better not to focus on “making yourself happy.”