Langer: Why ‘Sissy’ Novelists Cast Themselves in Fiction

Adam Langer, author of the just-released publishing satire The Thieves of Manhattan, has written a blog post for Publishers Weekly defending the impulse to write about oneself. Or, you know, some sort of thinly veiled version of oneself, perhaps veiled so thinly as to share one’s own name.

His argument seems to be: Writers today (“a sissy bunch, armed with degrees from liberal arts colleges, M.F.A.s from well-regarded writers’ programs”) have led boring lives. They must write about themselves (“[allow] ourselves to explore the intense experiences missing from our monotonous existences”) in order to pretend their lives are interesting.

This does not seem like argument that works out very well for readers.

No matter. Hey look, it’s Gary Shteyngart, being funny!

I sent an e-mail to Gary Shteyngart, who was then at work on a work of fiction that he has nevertheless called Super Sad True Love Story. Alas, he had already blurbed one of my books, so I asked for a few words from his own alter ego, Jerry Shteynfarb, the lecherous, self-promoting author of The Russian Arriviste’s Hand-Job Manual. Mr. Shteynfarb, via Mr. Shteyngart, responded quickly: “This book has many pages and a spine,” he wrote. “The font is nice and large. I recommend this book to anyone with failing eyesight.”

Langer: Why ‘Sissy’ Novelists Cast Themselves in Fiction