So you need a recommendation

A good friend of mine is applying for a prestigious and exclusive fellowship and asked me to write her a letter of recommendation. I agreed, of course, and then mailed her this… sometimes you just can’t resist:

HOW LONG HAVE YOU KNOWN THE APPLICANT

1. I have been acquainted with Miss M for eight years after meeting her through a mutual friend, who later, overcome with remorse, married a Frenchman. She has become a close friend of my family and has been a welcome guest in our home although my lawyer completely failed to seduce her despite repeatedly plying her with shots of tequila and Jagermeister.

I have not known her in the Biblical sense.

WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER THE APPLICANT’S GREATEST STRENGTHS

2. I consider her greatest strength to be her backside. It is so perfectly round that British scientists calibrate their instruments by it. She really knows how to use it when she walks, especially when she needs to distract someone from one of her occasional screwups. As you have probably noticed, her legs are good too, and she wears very short skirts in the office, which is nice when you get tired of looking at Internet porn.

Her integrity is also of a very high level. When I was bringing in a shipment of Rhodesian ivory taken from poached elephant tusks and Interpol called, she managed to leave them with the impression that the shipment consisted of children’s toys without actually lying.

She also works very hard, at least for a while, until she gets bored and moves on to her next job.

WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER TO BE THE APPLICANT’S WEAKNESS. (Be candid)

3. I have long felt that the applicant should consider getting implants. Nothing crazy, like double-Ds or anything, but a solid D-cup would be something I would recommend. I think we can all agree that if you’re going to have a woman in the office, pretty much everyone likes to look at breasts of the larger size. I don’t mean that in a sexist way or anything, after all, there’s plenty of the L-words out there, especially when you’re dealing with career chicks that no one wants to marry. Not that the applicant goes both ways or anything like that.

WHAT HAS THE APPLICANT DONE THAT YOU CONSIDER CREATIVE OR UNIQUE

4. She did a helicopter once off a mogul when we were skiing in Zermatt that was out of this f—— world! Also, after business hours, she changes her clothes in a telephone booth and spends her evenings fighting crime with the Justice League of America.

I got a phone call the next day. “That was so funny! Um, you didn’t actually send that in to them, did you?”

I should have. I’m sure she’ll get in anyhow, and I find it very difficult to believe that a group of people who have never heard of me will put much store in my opinion one way or the other. Sometimes my inability to follow through on these things just sickens me.

Aero Vwa, Mr. Williams

It seems Kyle Williams is hanging up his pen for the nonce. I’m not surprised; we exchanged email some months ago wherein he expressed a certain disgust with how he had spent more than a few columns regurgitating Republican talking points and mundane conservative conventions in the flower of his youth.

And while I may have tended to regard those early columns with an amount of eye-rolling disdain – and yes, I do understand that the point isn’t the dog’s grammar, but still – I very much respect the way in which he has continued to develop intellectually, in marked contrast to other writers whose work has appeared on WND over the same period. Kyle has learned to think for himself, which is no small achievement for any individual and is particularly impressive in one of his age. Again, he demonstrates his precociousness.

I rather doubt this is the last we’ll be hearing from young Mr. Williams, and I will not be terribly surprised if in the future, Mr. Williams sans adjective proves himself to be a formidable and creative thinker. I wish him well.

How not to write about a writer

Jonathan Lethem writes about himself in the New York Times, using Italo Calvino as an excuse:

I took Italo Calvino’s death – 20 years and 5 days ago as I write this – personally. Though he didn’t know it, he’d broken a date. Calvino, one of the greatest European writers of the 20th century and among the only Italians (with Alberto Moravia, Luigi Pirandello and Umberto Eco) to have penetrated our shamefully translation-immune literary culture, had been about to visit the United States to deliver the Charles Eliot Norton lectures at Harvard, when at the age of 61, sitting in his backyard garden, he suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and, two weeks later, died. As well as the Harvard lectures, he’d agreed to a small American book tour, which was to have brought him as far as Cody’s Books in Berkeley. I was to have been sitting in the front row, breathless. Instead, I learned of Calvino’s death by reading a notice taped to Cody’s doors, explaining the cancellation of the event, together with a clipping of the obituary I’d happened not to see.

This has got to be one of the worst pieces ever written about a writer since Jacqueline Carey wasted six pages explaining that she “gets” English humor in an essay nominally about Douglas Adams’ Hitchhikers Trilogy entitled – I kid you not – “Yes, I Got It”.

Here’s some advice for the would-be literary reviewer or biographer. IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU, MORON!

I very much like Calvino. I’m interested in serious discussions of his innovative works. But I’m really not interested in someone telling me what he thinks would have happened if Calvino had ever been so fortunate as to meet him.

Had he lived a few more weeks, Calvino probably would have tolerated my effort to waste a few of his shrinking hours on earth listening as I bragged of how much he’d influenced my then-unwritten works.

Sometimes, I really loathe writers. When I see one of those supercilious, self-conscious artistes pontificating pretentiously about something he hasn’t even written yet in a coffee shop, it makes me want to punch him in the face.

Real writers smoke like Eco, shoot guns like Bethke and Rosenberg and drink like Hemingway. In other words, they actually live their lives and write their books, they don’t sit around talking endlessly about them.

And what’s so shameful about America’s supposedly “translation-immune culture”? Go learn another language, you monolingual slothard! It’s not that hard, and based on this essay, it’s pretty obvious that Lethem doesn’t have anything better to do. Why is his inability to read a foreign writer’s book someone else’s fault?