Ladder Rungs πŸŽ“ | Perforated Lines
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⚑ April 26, 2014

Ladder Rungs πŸŽ“

The New York Times Book Review back-page column of Anatole Broyard from 1981.

The New York Times Book Review back-page column of Anatole Broyard from 1981.

I present the second bit of evidence that I am, indeed, doing my job and taking care of business. This is another of the items that I must first scan, and then OCR, and then correct the OCR, and then get it set up first as a webpage and then next as a part of the enhanced book experience I’m working on, which I’m calling a zeen for now. I’m also creating the zeener that will be used to view all my books. And all my mags, which will be many.

Now, to the review. This is a column that was a popular feature of the New York Times Book Review back in time. Anatole Broyard – what a beautiful name! – was one of the cultural gatekeepers, so his columns were heavy breathers on the party line. Yes, he had reviewed my novel, and it was a good review and all, but it ran in the Saturday edition of the newspaper, and we all knew what that meant. I knew my place. And then my place shifted.

My editor, who was first infamous, and then traditionally famous, set me straight on my status. It was sort of expected that the Times was going to review any and all books published by Farrar Straus, especially their first novels, if at all possible. Mine came in with all kinds of bells and ribbons: a glamorous agent, known and admired and even lusted over; a cool editor who is the son of literary royalty, and me, recent Princeton graduate, summa cum laude who gathered up a literary prize as I left college and went back to being a housewife.

And so I have now been writing for over fifty years, non-stop more or less. I’m learning to program so that I can encase this output in something that should last. Plain text has outlived all its competitors, standing cleanly on the sidelines as Word and Pages duke it out and try to add more and more Jenga cubes to the bloated stack of source code.

The world is changing and charlatans are taking advantage of the new liquid flow of the news, a flow unfixed except for the occasional screen-grab. I urge you to learn how to perform this little gesture of defiance. Find the keys on your computer that take the photo, file the .jpgs or .pngs and don’t be afraid of your own computer.

So, looking back, I see that Broyard is a sort of Don Draper character, wondering aloud about the β€œNew Woman,” of which my character in Cleaning House is an example. What was happening to the women? The dominant male was wondering. He’s wondering, still, I’ll bet. πŸ”