On Book Burning


2005-04_Shoah_Autodafé_002
Originally uploaded by decembre.
Yesterday on the train, I stood next to a woman reading David Copperfield.

"Why?" I asked her.

"It's a classic," she answered. "It's wonderful."

I wanted to tell her to stop, but who the hell am I?

There are so many books that I would burn. Sounds strange for a writer, right? But it's the truth. I can't speak for anyone else, but I can say that these books have harmed me.

These books stood between me and an understanding of what good writing is for years. Some of them are still there. Do you know how hard it is to strike Moby Dick from your memory once you've read it 20 times?

David Copperfield . . . It's a safe bet that in the last hour alone publishing houses wrote rejection letters for at least 1,000 novels that are better than David Copperfield. And yet this silliness of "the classics' persist.

And idiots like me still read them.
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