On Influence and The Concubineapple

Along with the heat and images of Anthony Weiner’s anatomy, influence seems to be everywhere these days. The most recent issue of the excellent Canadian literary magazine, Brick, has a great piece by the Colombian writer, Juan Gabriel Vasquez, on the sometime-stultifying influence of One Hundred Years of Solitude, the influences of Gabriel García Marquez, and how future writers should make use of their own. While the piece is fascinating and insightful, its sharpest moment is when Gabriel Vasquez proffers his Bloomian insight about a novelist’s learning curve:

The educational process of a novelist is a sum of uncertainties, of insecurities; to survive, one must cling to some model, but one must take a lot of care in choosing a model. The choice of an inadequate model, as happened to so many imitators of magic realism, can drown their perception and invalidate them as creative artists. In other words, the genuine novelist is incapable of creating from nothing, for at every step he must carry the baggage of his tradition, which includes the entire history of fiction in prose but also what his contemporaries are doing; at the same time, he is capable of finding in his predecessor everything he needs, even if what he needs is not really in his predecessor’s work. This is what’s called misinterpretation. This is pure literary revisionism.

Closer to home though, in our very own city, is a panel this Friday on the subject. Granta Magazine is sponsoring a panel this Friday, at the New School, on Eudora Welty and the writers she influenced. It’s at 7 p.m., Wollman Hall, The New School (66 W 11th Street) and partially in honor of their new issue, “The F Word,” which is devoted to studying feminism in a world of men and “the ways in which it continues to inform, address, and complicate that balance.” Appropriately enough, they’ll be reading Welty’s letter to The New Yorker (at that time, very much an old boys’ club), in which she, straight out of college, attempted to make her case to work for the magazine based on her ability to coin words (“concubineapple”) and draw (“I can also draw like Mr. Thurber, in case he goes off the deep end”). There are some more snippets at that publication’s Book Bench blog—but to hear the whole thing, come to the panel tomorrow!


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