Being a white male straight twentysomething writer makes me automatically awful. I’ve accepted that. But not every white male straight twentysomething writer has. I know this because I still see articles like Open Culture’s “Seven Tips From Ernest Hemingway on How to Write Fiction,” and nobody but a deluded white male straight twentysomething writer is clicking on that. In short: shut up, Hemingway.
Hemingway, your advice is shit and you don’t even follow it yourself: under tip #7, “Be brief,” we see that you wrote “It wasn’t by accident that the Gettysburg address was so short. The laws of prose writing are as immutable as those of flight, of mathematics, of physics.” How about just “those of flight,” you hypocritical fuck? Tip #3: “Never think about the story when you’re not working”? Yeah that makes a lot of sense.
I know it’s not just you I should be angry at, Hemingway, rather the horrid archivists who cull blog material from letters that the world never needed to see. I’m still half-convinced that the actual Hemingway could now scoff at his own epistles and tell us: “Write however you goddamn want, what do I care, I’m dead.” But on the off-chance he’s every bit as irritating as he seemed—I hope that in hell you get trampled by bulls every day.
This week, literary authorities were stunned to uncover the existence of something called memoir, the apparent transmission of one human being’s actual past experience via the printed word and sometimes even bound artifacts known as books. Startling, isn’t it? Normally we think of books as a bunch of made-up bullshit!
Even more astoundingly, memoir turns out to be exceedingly popular, generating big advances, TV appearances and franchisable authors. Which may help to explain why so many young writers are flocking to the study of this bizarre craft. It’s almost as though they want to be commercially successful in their chosen field. Strange days, indeed.
But the news just gets more fantastic from there. It turns out that memoir has existed for literally at least forty years, and probably longer! Scientists have carbon-dated certain miserable memoirs by bearded alcoholics all the way back to the late 1960s. Historians have suggested these ancestors of the modern memoirist were fairly superstitious, often typing with dick in hand.
What other secrets might the world of letters reveal to us in time? Now that we know ourselves capable of reconstructing a workable narrative of what has happened to us up to that point, anything is possible. Why, there might even be such a thing as an autobiographical novel. Imagine!
“Museum” is the new single from London-based band Fiction, and I can’t stop listening. The group makes precision pop for now (and then), people sharing some ’80s-inspired DNA with acts like Wild Beasts and Yeasayer. Their first three singles—“Careful," “Big Things,” and “Parakeets”—influenced by a dose of post-punk groups like A Certain Ratio and The Comsat Angels (who coincidentally had an incredible 1982 album titled Fiction). “Museum” mixes up a touch of Lloyd Cole and the Commitments with a heavy helping of China Crisis, which isn’t a group people chatter about much these days and that makes the song sound fresh with skittish wonder.
Formed in 2009 by singers/multi-instrumentalists Mike Barrett and James Howard and guitarist Nick Barrett—current bassist/vocalist David Miller signed on later—the group have been active in the U.K. for a couple years now, scoring multiple radio appearances, a spot on the Kitsuné Maison 11 compilation, and even landing a Ford campaign that raised their profile considerably. “Musuem” is the group’s fourth single and the first song from their upcoming debut album The Big Other, which will see release via Moshi Moshi on March 4.
And in case you’re interested in some evidence of that China Crisis sound here a couple gems: