Why we like the writers we do … or not

The pages of the print-out are dated 13 January 2009, in fact, more precisely than that: 12:01pm. It’s an article that I liked in Salon.com from 2002. I suspect that years after I first read it (I was reading a lot of Salon those years), I remembered it and printed it out so I could save it.

It seemed that I had found in the words of a journalist named Tom Bissell something profound and correct in a long essay about how we connect with writers and not with others, even though we know that everyone else might like/hate them, and even when we have contradictory feelings for very similar writers. Perhaps I liked it as a justification for the authors that I’ve not connected with, or haven’t been drawn to read.

The article was called ‘I’d prefer not to‘ and I’m happy to see it’s still online.

I’m amused to now read that the author went on to co-write the book “The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made” which I’d heard of, after my friend James introduced me to the semi-regular showings of The Room at a cinema here in Sydney, Australia. I’m also interested to read that Bissell has kept writing, including a book of short fiction, and including video games scripts. I’ll have to check out those short stories.

The argument that he lays out is that the books we end up falling in love with are akin to finding a friend that provokes a ‘nearly cell-level sensation’, the pages emitting an ‘aura, the ineffable, almost psychic pulse’. It is more than just subject matter or aesthetics or whether we like the politics of the book, but something that is both describable and indescribable.

At times, we might not be in the right place to connect with a book (physical, temporaral or mental), but when it happens, it is love, yes.

Now, I’m going to recycle these pages, since I know where to find the article, which he wrote when he was only 28 years old. It’s worth a read if what I’ve written has peaked your interest.

This entry was posted in Advice, Books, Writing. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *