Thursday, October 1, 2009

A Less Sparkling Krystal

 In his New York Times Sunday Book Review article "When Writers Speak," Arthur Krystal undermines my plans to include writers at a soiree.

Krystal notes that whatever of the intellect the writer successfully transmits into print will most likely evaporate between brain and mouth in conversation. He gives the example of Nabakov sounding positively brilliant in an early television interview, except that he was reading from index cards.

When writing, Krystal feels at his very smartest, and he reports on some insights from Steven Pinker, Harvard psychologist, as to why that might be:
Pinker sensibly points out that thinking precedes writing and that the reason we sound smarter when writing is because we deliberately set out to be clear and precise, a luxury not usually afforded us in conversation.

It doesn't bode well for the inclusion of writers at my soiree because "wonderful writers might therefore turn out to be only so-so conversationalists."

Still and all though, Arthur Krystal would be an admirable guest at any soiree, even if his conversation is only partly as humourous and graceful as his writing.

Arthur Krystal's works include The Half-Life of an American Essayist (2007) and Agitations: Essays of Life and Literature (2002). He edited Jacques Barzun's The Culture We Deserve  (1989).                                      

I would like to invite Arthur Krystal to my soiree - index cards are welcome!

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