One of Stephen Marche's refrains throughout his provocative essay, On Writing and Failure; as a writer himself, Marche would never deny that writing is hard work: He well knows that writing for a living is fatiguing to the brain and tough on the ego and that the financial payoff is overwhelmingly dismal. But, by repeatedly saying, “No whining,” Marche is telling aspiring writers, in particular, to “get used to it.” His aim in this little book is to talk about “what it takes to live as a writer, in air clear from the fumes of pompous incense.” And what it takes, in Marche's view, is to have no illusions about the certainty of failure. Even beyond talent or luck, Marche argues, the one thing a writer needs to get used to is failing again and again. Writing and Failure is not your standard meditation on the art and nobility of writing as a profession. Still, while Marche's outlook is as bleak as one of Fitzgerald's legendary hangovers, his writing style is buoyant and funny. On Writing and Failure is part of a new pamphlet series published by Biblioasis, a small independent Canadian press. The pamphlet is a quintessentially 18th-century form, popularized by the likes of Tom Paine and Mary Wollstonecraft, and Marche walks in their footsteps. He's a quintessentially 18th-century Enlightenment stylist, bristling with contrarian views and witty epigrams. For instance, here's a passage where Marche discusses the “cruel […] Book Review (Biblioasis) “No whining.”
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