Thursday, December 17, 2009

Charles D'Ambrosio on Publicity, Writing and More

I remember reading this thing by Charles D'Ambrosio a few years ago. (Thanks to Katherine Taylor, who's guest blogging at The Elegant Variation, for resurrecting it.)

There's a lot that I like about D'Ambrosio -- mostly his writing, which I'm a huge admirer of. I go back to his stories again and again, and I'm always amazed at the depth of the writing, the emotional power, the craftsmanship. In fact, he's probably the writer who's made the greatest impact on me in the past few years.

D'Ambrosio seems like an old-school kind of guy, which I also like. Here's a quote from the above-linked piece, describing his take on doing publicity for a book:

"I feel sort of indentured, obligated to serve, to go out and play the public role of the writer, even though I know, in my heart, that the real act of writing, the one that matters to me -- putting words on paper -- ended many months earlier when I finished the final revisions and signed off on the galleys. I'm a writer, and that's my job, and I work hard at it. I really don't think any of the rest of it should be my business. I don't understand it. I'm not a salesman or a promoter or even a publisher, but if I liked that stuff, if I wanted to be a full-time huckster, then I imagine there would have to be faster and far more lucrative ways to break into the business than writing short stories and literary essays. In other words, writing a book is a really crappy way to launch a career in the schmatta trade. I don't like sales of any sort. Something in the nature of the transaction itself makes me uncomfortable. I can't hardly buy my own clothes without trauma.

The essay also includes a moving fan letter that D'Ambrosio received. And, too, there's this stop-and-make-you-think quote from Eugenio Montale:

"A fragment of music or poetry, a page, a picture begin to live in the act of their creation but they complete their existence when they circulate, and it does not matter whether the circulation is vast or restricted; strictly speaking, the public can consist of one person, so long as that person is not the author himself."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

wow, an informative post and one that makes me sort of sad at the drivel i post.

loved your comment about the office, mate, thanks. "Free love freeway," by the by, is one of my favorite songs ever. I heard he performed it "live" on inside the actors studio. gotta watch that episode.