“Writing as a form of suffering is no longer possible when you publish yourself,” Garrison Keillor told the audience at the Authors’ Guild Gala last night at Tribeca Roof. “When you become your own publicist, you have to interview yourself.”
Mr. Keillor riffed on the gloom accompanying the heralded death of print and the deprofessionalization of writing before the guild’s Award for Distinguished Service to the Literary Community was presented to New Yorker editor David Remnick.
Said Mr. Remnick of Mr. Keillor’s remarks, “Never have I laughed so hard and been so bummed out at the same time.”
Mr. Remnick took the opportunity to pay tribute to several heroes and mentors and recalled the single lunch he’d shared with Alfred Kazin, when Mr. Kazin said to him, “‘David, I wonder if we are any longer people of the book. I worry we have become people of the magazine.’” Mr. Remnick then wondered aloud whether we were witnessing the rise of “the people of the iPad.”
Mr. Remnick described his frustration at filing poetic boxing reports only to see his copy turned into “plain English.” On relations between writers and editors, he cited the late Shirley Povich of The Washington Post sports desk: ” ‘An editor is no more than a mouse trained to be a rat.’ “
“So good to hear an editor speak and make so much sense,” said Mr. Keillor as he returned to the stage. He closed with a line from Marilyn Monroe, “I don’t care about money. I just want to be beautiful.”