Self was going to go to the Post Office but then son called with an urgent request and then self decided that the only way to fulfill the request was to go painstakingly through her “pile of stuff” (which is huge and probably contains six months worth of back correspondence) and then the weather started to change and turn cloudy, and the day was not so nice, so self decided to give herself a break and eat the cheesecake she was going to surprise hubby with tonight …
Suffice it to say that it seems unlikely self will get to the post office today. Instead, she’s reading The New York Times Book Review of 31 January 2010 (which, come to think of it, was just yesterday) and there is a review by Antonya Nelson of Robert Stone’s new book, a collection of short stories called Fun With Problems.
And here is how the review begins:
A Robert Stone character is often in a position to do harm or good, and his inclination is often to choose harm. This harm is as frequently to the protagonist himself as it is to others — the characters in Stone’s new collection, “Fun With Problems,” are, like many in contemporary fiction, dangerous mostly to themselves.
(You know, self is getting quite sick of characters who are mostly dangerous to themselves. For she finds it very hard to predict when people she thinks of as certifiably harmful are doing the harm to themselves or to her. And she wastes endless hours trying to decide. Which is such a terrible waste of brain matter! But, on with the review)
But what distinguishes Stone’s men and women is that they realize it. They are conscious of their bad decisions, which prevents them from resembling that more ordinary fictional bungler, the still-waters-run-deep guy hatched by Hemingway . . .
(Oh, self loves that “hatched by Hemingway” phrase! Hemingway as femin-esque! She wishes she had thought of it first! How very outré!)
. . . and subsequently adopted by an unending stream of male American story writers.
(Oh my goodness, oh my goodness, Antonya! Yes, let’s let the male short story writers have it! Let’s smack them with their own participles! Smack them with their own macho yearnings, their whininess or lack thereof, let’s . . . Hold on, self! Let’s keep on going, because the rest of the essay is undoubtedly full of mad aphorisms! Self can haaaardly wait!)
Must stop now to give full attention to reading, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.
One response to “Quote of the Day: Antonya Nelson Reviews Robert Stone for The NYTBR”
In the early twentieth century, in his series of lectures entitled Pragmatism, the philosopher and psychologist William James advanced the thesis that, broadly speaking, people can be separated into two general categories of personality – tough minded and tender minded.