Ed here: I got this letter from Dave Zeltserman today and thought I'd pass it along. I happened to scan the Garrison Keillor piece referred to here. As readers of this blog know, I'm no Keillor fan. Winsome County wore out plumb quick for me and when I heard Keillor--along with Prof. Matthew Bruccolli and Christopher Hitchens discuss The Great Gatbsy--I knew that Keillor and I lived on different planets. He insists that the famous green light at the end of Gatsby is a symbol of America's promise--of riches and adventures of untold. So Gatsby is one of those think positive! novels, eh? Of course while the green light may symbolize those things it is a false promise, an illusion, a delusion, the very same delusion that destroyed Gatsby and left a number of other people dead, too.
From a Gatsby website:
They were careless people, Tom and Daisy—they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made....
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.
Ed here: This doesn't much like the Rotarian version of Gatsby Keillor peddles now, does it?
Ed, there's a discussion on Crime Space on Garrison Keillor's recent
article about on the state of publishing, and someone named Peter
Steiner posted this excellent post:
"I'm a little late to the game--both in responding to Keillor's piece
and in becoming a writer--but here goes anyway.
First off, Keillor seems more than a little disingenuous, acting as
though he were just folks at a swank party. He got invited because of
a well-connected pal. Really? He's written "a couple or books"
Self publishing may be part of the problem with our modern world--it
is, as Keillor suggests, the way around the gate keepers. But the
publishers and editors--the gate keepers have given up being gate
keepers, by which I mean finding and nurturing interesting writing.
They gave up being people who first of all love books, to become
people who first of all love profits. Who knows whether, if they had
continued actually promoting writers who did something of their own,
if they encouraged and helped writers, if they actually trusted
writers, yes, who knows whether self-publishing would be making such
And Keillor and the star writers? Well, it's complicated, and they're
only human. Being invited to a penthouse party with the stars is
probably too enticing to resist. I'd almost certainly succumb if it
were offered. After all you can be your plain, genuine self among your
fellow celebrities. And the price of admission is so small, one hardly
notices. In fact most of the celebs subscribed to the success formula
from the very beginning: write what sells.
Write what sells has always been a part of things. But there was also
write what's good, what's interesting, what's you. That was, of
course, back when publishers actually loved books, and Keillor was
dancing through the corn waving his big check."