10.06.2004

Don Webb on Writers

I'll take a crack at the debate tonight, but first I'd like to quote from Don Webb. These may not be his exact views, but I've read enough similar themes towards writers, especially beginning ones, that it's fairly safe to claim Webb shares the views. He sounds almost as cantankerous as Harlan Ellison--although he can't be too cantankerous since he teaches fiction through an extension of UCLA.

My favorite Webb story so far has been "Our Novel" in the May 2002 issue of F&SF, in which a bunch of beginning writers kill a mid-list author and eat him because they realize he'd been running a con game to prey upon their hungry egos. After eating the author, the newbies co-write a bestseller together, but afterwards cannot write a single worthwhile story. I'll leave the surprise--if I haven't already given it away--for some enterprising F&SF collector to uncover.

This theme of great writing by chance returns in "The Literary Fruitcake" [from A Spell for the Fulfillment of Desire, published by FC2] wherein a fruitcake has been passed through many famous literary hands from Dickens to Burroughs, et al, only to be stolen by a burgler/graffiti artist who eats and suddenly composes works of genius on the city walls of Austin.

My favorite line comes from a vignette interestingly and at times effectively designed narrative though it doesn't pull together as a story: "One Hundred" published by Chris Drumm--it comes as a mini-chapbook bundled with the signed chapbook mentioned in the previous entry below (follow the link in that entry to order).

In this story, "you," an aspiring author--or the reader of this chapbook perhaps--has been attempting to be "a writer," mostly without writing ("You begin a journal with the theory that writing something is writing" although some poets would disagree with the irony in that line):

"You come across the May 15 entry made in the New York Public library when you went up to eight people and asked them why they were here. Six were researching for their novels, one was researching for his dissertation, and one was there to read."

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