A Forsley Feuilleton: I believe he once claimed to have reeled in a marlin with one hand and beaten a bear in arm wrestling with the other[admin / January 16th, 2012 / Young Bright Things ]
Even though Woody Allen is still sticking his wrinkled pecker into Soon-Yi, his ex-girlfriendâ€™s adopted daughter, I support the great filmmaker unconditionally.Â Itâ€™s time to forget about his scandal and start shunning those writers that still use it as an opening for pieces of writing that have nothing to do with Allen, his flicks, or his personal affairs just to get the attention of our nationâ€™s perverted, opinionated, gossip-loving readers.Â Allen has been happily married to Soon-Yi for close to twenty years now, and as long as he continues making flicks I too am happy.Â Iâ€™m especially happy about his newest flick, Midnight in Paris, and itâ€™s not because I have a thing for Owen Wilsonâ€™s nose or because I wish I lived in 1920s Paris.Â No, I donâ€™t have any nose-job gift certificates for Wilson and my Paris in the 20s obsession ended years ago.Â All it got me was a fifty-dollar bottle of fake absinthe that resulted in a month-long hangover, and a rash from a stripper in a San Francisco â€˜cabaretâ€™ that was nothing like the Moulin Rouge.
Iâ€™m happy about Midnight in Paris because in it Earnest Hemingway, under the command of Allen, gave me some life changing advice:Â â€œIf youâ€™re a writer, declare yourself the best writer.â€Â I guess it wasnâ€™t life changing, but it was good advice for this first Forsley Feuilleton.Â Actually, itâ€™s because of Hemingwayâ€™s advice that I narcissistically included my surname in the title of this highly regarded PANK blog. . . this is a column, not a blog.Â Itâ€™s a column because I, Christopher Forsley, just as Hemingway advised, declare myself the best writer, and the best writer writes columns â€“ as Dorothy Parker, Herb Caen, and Christopher Hitchens each did during their reign as the best â€“ not blogs.Â Blogs are what Perez Hilton writes, and I donâ€™t want to be in league with a writer that exploits the personal lives of celebrities just to gain readers.
Then, immediately after advising me to declare myself the best writer, Hemingway said, â€œBut youâ€™re not as long as Iâ€™m around, unless you wanna put on the gloves and settle it.â€Â Lucky for us, Hemingway blew his brains out long ago.Â Lucky for you because, if youâ€™re a woman, he would offend your modern sensibilities, and, if youâ€™re a man, he would kick your modern ass.Â And lucky for me, since Iâ€™m a man to some degree, I can now declare myself the best writer without having to put on the gloves and settle it with Hemingway.Â I still have to settle it with the other contemporary male writers who may try to declare themselves as the best, but at least Hemingway isnâ€™t around to knock me out.
And I doubt any living male writer in possession of the talent to declare himself the best could knock me out.Â Gore Vidal is too old.Â Thomas Pynchon doesnâ€™t exist.Â George Saunders founded the PRKA (People Reluctant To Kill For An Abstraction). Gary Steyngart canâ€™t walk straight due to his vodka intake. Stephen Elliot, if heâ€™s anything like his father â€“ whose rather disgraceful encounter with three punks in a Chicago park was documented in The Adderall Diaries â€“ couldnâ€™t hang with me, despite his intimidating Rumpus tattoo.Â And Jonathan Ames, â€˜The Herring Warrior,â€™ has, my sources at McSweenyâ€™s tell me, a pitiful record in the ring of 1-4, so Iâ€™m sure I could whip him too.
Even if the more recent reports of Ames getting a win against Craig Davidson, that burly Canadian writer, are true, and even if he uses his newly established Bored To Death Hollywood connections to get some of Manny Ramirezâ€™s steroids and Freddie Roach of the Wild Card Gym to train him and does the impossible â€“ knock me out â€“ Iâ€™m still a better writer than him because. . . because I declare it.Â And why shouldnâ€™t I?
If Hemingway could, then I can too.Â That old woman hater â€“ and young woman hater â€“ was a failed journalist turned failed novelist. A rose is a rose is a rose is a rose, and a hack is a hack is a hack is a hack.Â He thought replacing commas with â€˜andâ€™ was innovative, squeezing â€˜damnâ€™ into every paragraph was shocking, omitting important scenes added dimension, using short declarative sentences masked his lack of punctuation knowledge, and that writers should strangle their emotions.Â He probably thought writers should strangle their emotions so that after they discover the works of Knut Hamsun and realized that he, Hemingway, stole whatever style he did have from that crazy old Nazi sympathizer that those emotionless writers would passively ignore the theft instead of writing an outraged analysis of it, disputing the drunkardâ€™s literary reputation.
Hemingwayâ€™s reputation as a drunk, though, is indisputable, and like all drunks, he lied â€“ to himself and his readers.Â I believe he once claimed to have reeled in a marlin with one hand and beaten a bear in arm wrestling with the other, simultaneously.Â That was a lie, just as his claims of boxing prowess were.Â I call bullshit on all those stories of him getting paid to spar with professional prizefighters while living in Paris.Â I bet the only fight he ever got into was against Gertrude Stein.Â He probably started it after she called his writing, â€œinaccrochable,â€ and then he quit it after she both verbally and physically dismantled him.
Iâ€™ll take it further: Hemingwayâ€™s entire life was a lie â€“ his writing ability, his fighting ability, and even his ability in bed with the opposite sex.Â I agree with Truman Capote, who called him â€œThe greatest old closet queen ever to come down the pike.â€Â To get a visual of Hemingway writing at his desk in that same dress his mother used to put on him while a dozen six-toed purring kittens crawl about and some half naked and completely unfulfilled lady visitor sobs in the corner, all you have to do is turn to a random page in The Old Man and the Sea.Â Iâ€™m doing it right now. . .Â and this, on page twelve of my edition, is what I found:
The Boy: â€œHow old was I when you first took me in a boat?â€
The Old Man: â€œFive and you nearly were killed when I brought the fish in too green and he nearly tore that boat to pieces. Can you remember?â€
The Boy: â€œI can remember the tail slapping and banging and the thwart breaking and the noise of the clubbing. I can remember you throwing me into the bow where the wet coiled lines were and feeling the whole boat shiver and the noise of you clubbing him like chopping a tree down and the sweet blood smell all over me.â€
The Old Man: â€œCan you really remember that or did I just tell it to you?â€
The Boy: â€œI remember everything from when we first went together.â€
Because I want my family to read this first Forsley Feuilleton, I wonâ€™t go into too much detail about the sexual symbolism found in the conversation quoted above.Â The boat is the bed, and the fish is The Old Manâ€™s pecker.Â Use your imagination and figure out the rest on your own.Â And if you doubt my simple yet profound symbolic translation, turn to the next page where you will find The Boy, no longer the five-year-old he was during his first encounter with The Old Man, asking, â€œBut are you strong enough now for a truly big fish?â€Â And The Old Man responds: â€œI think so.Â And there are many tricks.â€
Competition is competition, and if â€œwriters are competitive,â€ as Hemingwayâ€™s character in Midnight in Paris says, then you have to do whatever you can to beat the competition.Â Hemingway had to lie about his sexual desires so he could write about manly pursuits without his peers dismissing him as a fairy.Â He had to cheat on his many wives with many women so he could backup his lie.Â And he had to steal Hamsunâ€™s writing style so he could declare himself the best writer.
I canâ€™t spell worth a damn, canâ€™t create descriptive scenes, canâ€™t write realistic dialogue, and canâ€™t socialize at literary cocktail parties without getting so belligerently drunk that I have to stay in the corner chair. . .Â so perhaps I too should start lying, cheating, and stealing if Iâ€™m going to beat the competition and be the best writer. But Iâ€™m too honest, and anyway, my writing speaks for itself â€“ and a good thing it does because most of what it says is entirely unoriginal.
And Iâ€™ll prove it by selecting a passage at random from my first book, Bums of the Bay.Â An unknown San Francisco publisher called Seven7h Tangent released it and itâ€™s only stocked in a single store that I wonâ€™t reveal, so I donâ€™t think the inclusion of this passage makes me an offender of PANKâ€™s â€œno self promotionâ€ rule, but if it does then Iâ€™ll be damned both literally and literarily.Â Hereâ€™s the entirely unoriginal passage:
â€œAlbert tried to get to the grave by hanging himself.Â He used a dangling participle.Â But having no idea how to use a dangling participle, death never came.Â Death knew how to use a shotgun though, so he visited Kurt Cobain instead.â€
That passage isn’t entirely unoriginal.Â Only the dangling participle hanging joke is unoriginal.Â It was stolen from a S.J. Perelman piece by my writing, not by me.Â But give my writing a break.Â Everyone in this game steals â€“ like T.S. Elliot said in a totally different context, â€œGood writers borrow, great writers outright steal.â€ I even stole part of this columnâ€™s title from Perelman.Â I donâ€™t even know what a feuilleton is.Â But Perelman is obscure enough that my writing and I might be able to pull off a literary heist on par with Hemingwayâ€™s ransacking of Hamsunâ€™s style. . . and launch an entire career off Perelman plagiarism, just like Woody Allen did.