Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Poison Pen

I kicked up a bit of a kerfuffle recently when I wrote of my displeasure with Ernest Hemingway. I don't know how I ventured into Comparative Literature as this is by no means my strong suit. Anymore than Organic Chemistry. Or Renaissance Art: The Age of Enlightenment.

I might have taken a Comp. Lit. course in college, some 20 years ago, but there's a good bet I was stoned and don't remember a thing.

If you read the comment section of that post you'll see I got into some playful back and forth with a Papaphile but was disappointed he didn't want to go another few volleys. If you know me at all, and I would think after 1100 posts you'd know a little, there's nothing I enjoy more than the opportunity to get behind the keyboard and start swinging.

But the commenter didn't oblige and I channeled that excess energy into some bench presses.

In any case, it reminded of an article I had read about famous authors taking potshots at other famous authors.

In today's sterilized world of political correctness people are hesitant to come out and say exactly what they are thinking. This is especially true in Hollywood, where one misspoken word can be the difference between a promising film career or becoming Steven Dorf.

But that type of vocational dishonesty didn't stop these very famous authors. As a service to RoundSeventeen readers, I've collected, I'm sorry, curated, some of my favorites.

We'll start with one of the most famous insults.

Truman Capote about Jack Kerouac:

"That's not writing, that's typing."

Here's what Vladimir Nabokov (Lolita) had to say about Hemingway:

"I read him for the first time in the early forties, something about bells, balls and bulls, I loathed it."

Mark Twain was quite clear on his opinion of Jane Austen:

"Every time I read Pride and Prejudice I want to dig her up and hit her over the skull with her own shin-bone."

Some of my favorite heated exchanges involve Groucho Marx and famed screenwriter S. J. Perelman. The two enjoyed a contentious, though hilarious, relationship.

Groucho to S.J. with regards to his new book:

"From the moment I picked up your new book to the moment I put it down, I convulsed with laughter. Some day, I intend reading it."

S.J., no slouch in the wit department, once said:

"I did two films with them, which in its way is perhaps my greatest distinction in life, because as anybody who ever worked on a film with the Marx Brothers said he would rather be chained to a galley oar and lashed at ten minute intervals until blood spurted from his frame than ever work for those sons of bitches again."

Decades later S.J. was visiting Groucho at his home in the hills and asked, "Do you mind if I smoke?" Groucho replied, "I don't care if you burn."

Discretion and good manners prevent me from throwing jabs at fellow copywriters suffice to say there is one hack in this town known for closing commercials with…

"See your local _______ dealer and lease a new _______ for just $349 a month."

That's weak.
Written by someone who should be cold-cocked on the head with their own femur bone.

I would have stated it much more eloquently.

"Lease a ______ for just $349 a month. See your local ______ dealer."

Much better. Right?

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