ToBS R1: excessively long list of credits including pushcart nominations in your bio vs. the guy who goes 20 minutes over the suggested reading time

Posted by @ 4:09 pm on November 30th, 2011

[Matchup #3 in Tournament of Bookshit]

Guy who goes 20 minutes over the suggested reading time gives zero shits about the undergrads who are there for extra credit and texting so hard out of boredom that their fingers are bleeding. Like a stalker he is patient, in front of you when you don’t want him to be, and prone to define the two of you spending ‘quality time’ together as him reading while you sneak airplane bottles of Absolut from your purse—at first surreptitiously, but soon you’re throwing them back with grand, hyperbolic gestures; you’re punctuating his sentences by tilting back your head to the point of detachment to contort your throat into the shape of a more-perfect funnel, because his giving-zero-shits-ness is contagious. The booze is creeping up and you begin to enact a series of escapist hallucinations: locusts start pouring in through the ventilation and people scream and overturn their seats running for the door, but not this guy—he’s still reading, like a violin player serenading the fleeing passengers of the sinking Titanic. His words won’t stop coming and they’re painful, so you try to inflict a greater pain upon yourself to make your ears stop stinging. You think back and rip the Band-Aid off the worst psychological wound you have. You’re weeping because your mother doesn’t love you and the guy happens to look up and see your emotional tears; he is sure you are crying because his fiction is so moving and he decides to tack on an additional few pages and go 25 minutes over instead of 20. He has rendered you drunk, fragile, and wrought with uncontrollable tears.

Guy who puts an excessively long list of credits including pushcart nominations in his bio is there with you in the crowd, but he’s not intoxicated or distraught. He’s looking at the reader’s bio and counting the number of words it contains. His bios, too, will contain that number of words. He will be sure of it. He will be enough and measure up. Both he and Guy going 20 minutes over the suggested reading time are making the classic Hoarders mistake that quantity can aggregate into quality, that enough Hardees wrappers and desiccated cat corpses and stacks of 1985–1988 Newsweek magazines will be equivalent to a fine china dining set if they can just collect enough wrappers, cats, and magazines, but it is not true. Twelve publications in Dubious Tri-Weekly Literary Online Magazine hosted by Geocities will never copulate and spawn an article in Harper’s. No matter how long he reads for, no matter how long his bio is, these guys will still be lackluster writers. But only one of them has made me cry.

Alissa Nutting

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WINNER: Guy who goes 20 minutes over the suggested reading time

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