Sunday, December 18, 2011

The trouble with lists

Love Robert McCrum's postmodern playfulness in making a list ('Fifty things I've learned about the literary life') which includes the item: 34. Lists are the curse of the age. 


Some of the items are tongue-in-cheek - 5. Writers who get divorced usually sack their agents - but some are apparently deadly serious (and I tend to agree with them): 1. Less is more. Or, "the only art is to omit" (Robert Louis Stevenson); 6. Christopher Marlowe did not write Shakespeare. Nor did Francis Bacon or the Earl of Oxford. Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare. It's a no-brainer. Just read the First Folio. Though as an author published by a small literary press, I'm not sure what to make of his number 39: Small publishers are small for a very good reason (what reason? Because they publish excellence or because they publish rubbish?), especially in view of his number 27: Words and money go together like bacon and eggs. Words written for nothing are usually what you'd expect: flavourless.
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