AfterWord, Dale Salwar, Ed.

University of Iowa, 2011

The editor has collected articles of essays and fake interviews with various writers, each piece being a communication with a dead writer.

Various literary means convey the writings but usually by dialogue which is poorly written.

There are questionable assertions:

“Do you accept the view of Sinclair Lewis, F. Scott Fitzgerald, that you were the first indigenous American to write about American manners rather than European ones?”

EDITH WHARTON: “That’s probably quite true…”

WRONG. Mark Twain wrote about American manners when Edith was a girl. Perhaps the questioner was actually asking about the American Eastern pretense to manners, but other American writers also wrote about those before Edith.

EDITH WHARTON complains (p. 151) she had no formal education. Melville had no formal education. Twain went into the sixth grade. But I agree that WHARTON would have been a far superior author if she had taken the Creative Writing Classes at the University of Iowa.

Edith could have done that. Her family was filthy rich. Edith’s maiden name was Jones and because neighbors like the Rockerfellers and Whitneys always tried to keep up the pace, “Keeping up with the Jones,” became a cliche.  The Jones were the first family with electricity, telephones, flatscreen TVs, and iPads. They never saw an app they didn’t like.

In her interview Wharton complains that Pearl S. Buck got the Nobel Prize and she didn’t. Sour grapes. “Edith, Willa Cather didn’t get a Nobel Prize, either.”

There are statements in some chapters demonstrating an appalling lack of knowledge about the author: Joseph Conrad, who is not all Heart of Darkness. Conrad had no humor in his books. Anyone who hasn’t read Lord Jim should not be writing an essay for this compilation entitled, AfterWord. Anyone who doesn’t know the butterfly chapter in Lord Jim, God help them.

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