"What I mean is. John Turturro in Barton Fink. Michael Keaton in Birdman. The boy in the man who is ever what he was. Who LP’s Sticky Fingers or Blonde on Blonde with unclogged reverence. Boys in men other men admire. Who reel highlights, who wash-and-wield a Buick 6, who used to be, if not are, some woman’s used-to-be. Those literary varietals—the stooge incarnate or the male ingénue. Whose sense of self comes at the boy’s behest.
Such is the evidence of several macho-laced essays from 1995...
"The reason I may not have recognized male disclosure as liberation then (and the opposite, a codpiece exhibitionism) is I didn’t have the experience of my being the experience of my writing. It took twenty years of authoring to see my gender’s potential for intimacy—and its lack—whether in my essays or those of others. How transparent it is to me now. How utterly seen-through."
ON WILLIAM H. GASS'S WELL-DOCUMENTED SCORN FOR MEMOIR:
"What’s further bedeviling about Gass’s arrogance is that a) virtually no one supports his literary extremism and b) he couldn’t even imagine the memoirist’s esthetic. He doesn’t understand the primal urge to memoir—that authors make books in which their unknowing, their tentativeness and trials with “telling the truth,” becomes the narrative drama.
"He’s hyper-allegiant to classic literary forms. It’s a claim that we writers, so severely clubbed by our forebears, in Gass’s view, should know better than to bypass Chaucer’s humor, to forgo Ezra Pound’s dictum that only the French troubadours are worth studying, to think our religious lives must be begin and end with the Bible. Such edifices will crumble—if we let them."
ON JOHN EDGAR WIDEMAN AND THE EVER-PRESENT:
"...for despair to be in the writing, it must be in the writer while he essays."
Just a really great piece of literary and self-critique. Read the rest here!