You can tell how serious people are by looking at their books.
W. H. Auden
“Only thing Fitzgerald wrote that will last is THE GREAT GATSBY—- the rest (TENDER IS THE NIGHT, THE LAST TYCOON) is midcult junk.”
From As Consciousness Is Harnessed to Flesh: Journals and Notebooks 1964-1980, by Susan Sontag. Farrar, Straus & Giroux, page 409. This quotation is from 1976.
Sunday Sontag — “Stir up a shitstorm” Edition!
“Saying that Susan Sontag belongs to “the photography police” is hitting below the belt. It was only after I finished reading Believing Is Seeing and went back to Sontag’s writings on photography that I began to see that Errol Morris, this dogged seeker of truth, had been less than fully truthful.”
Bill Morris, reviewing Errol Morris’ Believing is Seeing.
This post is part of our “Best of 2011” series, which highlights exceptional original pieces that have been published on The Millions this year.
Book lovers love to watch two heavyweights slug it out. Bloodshed, though not necessary, is always welcome. Think of Paul Verlaine shooting his lover, Arthur Rimbaud, in the wrist. Think of Norman Mailer head-butting Gore Vidal for lumping Mailer with Henry Miller and Charles Manson as the misogynistic troika “3-M.” Or, less bloodily, think of Truman Capote hissing that Jack Kerouac’s writing was mere “typing.” Or Mary McCarthy claiming that every word Lillian Hellman wrote was a lie, including “and” and “the.” Or Richard Ford spitting on Colson Whitehead over his negative review of Ford’s A Multitude of Sins. Yes, we all love a good smackdown, regardless of the body fluids involved.