Literary Smack Talk

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Mark Twain on Jane Austen:

I haven’t any right to criticize books, and I don’t do it except when I hate them. I often want to criticize Jane Austen, but her books madden me so that I can’t conceal my frenzy from the reader; and therefore I have to stop every time I begin. Every time I read ‘Pride and Prejudice,’ I want to dig her up and hit her over the skull with her own shin-bone.

[via Flavorwire – The 30 Harshest Author-on-Author Insults In History]

Oh, those drama queens. To counter-balance the negative, Margaret Atwood on Raymond Chandler:

An affair with Raymond Chandler, what a joy! Not because of the
mangled bodies and the marinated cops and hints of eccentric sex, but
because of his interest in furniture. He knew that furniture could
breathe, could feel, not as we do but in a way more muffled, like the
word upholstery, with its overtones of mustiness and dust, its bouquet
of sunlight on aging cloth or of scuffed leather on the backs and
seats of sleazy office chairs. I think of his sofas, stuffed to roundness,
satin-covered, pale blue like the eyes of his cold blond unbodied
murderous women, beating very slowly, like the hearts of hibernating
crocodiles; of his chaises lounges, with their malicious pillows. He
knew about front lawns too, and greenhouses, and the interiors of cars.

This is how our love affair would go. we would meet at a hotel, or
a motel, whether expensive or cheap it wouldn’t matter. We would
enter the room, lock the door, and begin to explore the furniture,
fingering the curtains, running our hands along the spurious gilt frames
of the pictures, over the real marble or the chipped enamel of the
luxurious or tacky washroom sink, inhaling the odor of the carpets, old
cigarette smoke and spilled gin and fast meaningless sex or else the rich
abstract scent of the oval transparent soaps imported from England,
it wouldn’t matter to us; what would matter would be our response to
the furniture, and the furniture’s response to us. Only after we had
sniffed, fingered, rubbed, rolled on, and absorbed the furniture of the
room would we fall into each others’ arms, and onto the bed (king-
size? peach-colored? creaky? narrow? four-postered? pioneer-quilted?
lime-green-chenille-covered?), ready at last to do the same things to
each other.

— Margaret Atwood, In Love With Raymond Chandler

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