Idolatry and vanity

November 13, 2011

Joan Didion has a new book out called Blue Nights. It is about the death of her daughter. Previously she had written a book about the death of her husband. It was called The Year of Magical Thinking. Joyce Carol Oates recently wrote a book about the death of her husband, A Widow’s Story. And there are more. These tell all books about these writer’s personal grief make my skin crawl. And the reason. It is the detachment that some writers have toward life. They see everything as fodder for their stories. Even harvesting their own grief. I quote from the New York Times Book Review (page 7, Toronto Star, November 6, 2011) . “Somewhere in his published diaries the playwright Alan Bennet observes that when misforutune befalls a writer the effect of it is in a  small but significant measure ameliorated by the fact that the experience, no matter how dire, can be turned into material, into something to write about.”  Art should not be placed above life itself. It is idolatry. And vanity.


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