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Alter Egos - I Am Done Watching This

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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Victimless Crime of the Less Gifted - Richard Ford Instructs Dead Beat

Richard Ford (he of the Cavan born Grandmother - see Dead Beat is Homesick and Goofing Off ) and thus an old cairde of Dead Beat's got on his case recently.

"You've been teaching form, asking what makes a short story a short story and all. Isn't it time to give it a break?"

"Dick, I was only trying to get back to basics. I've been all over the shop recently."

"True enough Dead Beat. All the same, I want you to think about this. Over the years, people have been gracious enough to point out that I've written some unexcellent stories myself, and if that's true I hope to God I never write another one. But I know it's all right if I can't, and others sometimes don't. No one should care - least of all me - if a hundred writing programs graduate a thousand people every year, all of whom can write a semicompetent but rarely interesting version of what they mean to be a short story, or if oldsters write them by the carload, or if in California story writing is thought of as a branch of psychotherapy or crisis intervention.

That's fine. We're not talking about global warming or toxic waste here. It's a victimless crime if the ''less gifted'' thrive and have fun. Art's that way - free. And you couldn't stop people anyway, just as you can't stop scores of magazines, large and small, famous and obscure, from publishing all that not-so-good writing, then turning their editors loose upon the world to sit on panels and brag about how good it all is.

You won't get any hand wringing or defenses of the form out of me. The form's most persuasive defender - insofar as it needs any - is simply good work. And that's sufficient encouragement to those of us who write stories, and a pleasure to the remaining few who don't write them but merely like to read."

"Don't go away Cavan Boy, Dead Beat needs you."

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