Thursday, May 24, 2007

Literary dissonance: hating Helprin, loving the work.

So I'm going to Nashville to see my folks for an extended-long weekend, and I needed some books to read, as I'm low on fun stuff. Just today, I wandered into B&N, and I notice that Mark Helprin has a new novel out, "Freddy and Fredericka." Not real new, but it's his first in almost 10 years, and I hadn't seen it before, so it's exciting. So I bought it.

For awhile, now, I've known that I don't like Mark Helprin, the person. We don't need to get into the reasons, but we disagree on lots of policy issues. He's a senior fellow at the Claremont Institute. You can check out their info if you want to. But that's not the point.

I got back home today and was reading up on my news and blogs and got pointed from several sources to a NYT op-ed piece from last Sunday that Helprin wrote, titled "A Great Idea Lives Forever: Shouldn't It's Copyright?"

Thanks, blogosphere. I was trying really, really hard to forget that I don't like Helprin. For at least long enough to read the new novel. Did I say it was the first new Helprin novel in almost 10 years? Did I mention that I think his "Winter's Tale" is one of the best novels I've ever read?

But, noooo. Less than 3 hours after buying the book, I get whammed with the NYT piece. Now I've either got to really work on forgetting that I dislike this guy, or put the book on the shelf for awhile. O, fudge.

It's not like I need to love-love-love all my favorite authors. They're people. I'm a big guy (in both ways). I can look past all kinds of mortal shortcomings to enjoy the fruits of their artistic effort.

But, man... the delta between my appreciation for Helprin's prose and my outright scorn for many of his public ideas is vast.

How do I cope? Any suggestions welcome. At this point what I'm pretty much going to do is focus on how much of an ass I am... while still hoping that people enjoy my work. You know, "Do unto others." If folks can put up with my BS and still read any of my prose... well, perhaps I can look past Helprin's hypocricy and....

NO! Must stop... must... just... treat him... as... disembodied source of reading joy...

Hard... so hard.... 

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