writing and affected literary machismo

I would guess that Hemingway didn’t start this trend, but he sure was its archetype. The writer as Macho Male, facing doing the world, drinking, living, fighting, loving, with a supposed passion that far outstrips mere mortals. Why would we want to read the words of some average fellow when we can read the stories of those who embraced life and sucked the marrow out of it. Or something like that. It’s a literary type. One we don’t really celebrate today as much but who sold many books during the last century. The act often catches up with these machismo addicted writers, as writing really isn’t, after all, that macho a thing to do and after a couple of decades it’s hard to keep running from that reality. Medieval times had it more right. The real macho did things, went on quests, performed great acts. They didn’t put on a show. That was for the minstrels. Actors and writers weren’t the height of society they were the tellers of tales about those who lived on the heights.

Maybe that’s why I found this great post by John Barnes so interesting. It’s about the “Scott Thomas” and The New Republic controversy. If you haven’t been following that a young soldier published a few articles in the New Republic that were purportedly his journals describing war time degradations. He detailed his own descent into depravity and that of his fellow soldiers. It was published and made quite a stir about the de-humanizing effects of war. Only now it has been exposed as pure fiction. The writer admitted he made it up.

I’ve put aside most of my political commentary over the last year so the story he’s discussing didn’t really strike an interest until Dr. Barnes noted the literary temptations this controversy illustrated. Politics=increasingly boring to me. Writing types and issues = interesting.

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