Outward Bound Ideas

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Thursday, November 23, 2006

80. Amanda McKittrick Ros

From: The Book's the Thing (http://blogs.nsls.info/)

World's Worst Writer? or, the Tremendous Trials and Tribulations of the Brave Bevy at Belfast

Ever heard of the romance writer Amanda McKittrick Ros? Most likely not, though she was an author read by such notables as C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and Mark Twain, among others. So she must have been a worthy writer, right? Well, not exactly. In actuality, they read her works as part of a contest to see who could read the longest without bursting into laughter. Not exactly the most prestigious distinction, but it IS a distinction.

Can't argue with that, now, can you?

Her other distinction was her rampant usage of alliteration. That and her incredibly melodramatic language made Twain et. al. read her work for the sheer entertainment value only the truly bad can offer. Never mind Bulwer-Lytton's "It was a dark and stormy night..." McKittrick Ros blew the man completely out of the water. She showed HIM who's truly bad.

Amanda McKittrick Ros (1860-1939) was an Irish writer who fancied herself an aristocrat. She dropped the ending "s" in her last name in a vain attempt to align herself with Danish nobility, in an effort to claim a family line that wasn't anywhere near hers. She was, according to reports, a terrible snob who most likely had no idea what she was writing was anything other than profoundly literary. Which, of course, makes it all the more funny.

Here's an example of the sort of prose she wrote:
"The living sometimes learn the touchy tricks of the traitor, the tardy and the tempted; the dead have evaded the flighty earthy future, and form to swell the retinue of retired rights, the righteous school of the invisible and the rebellious roar of the raging nothing."

From: http://www.alanbaxter.info/2006/09/awful-authors-alliterative-revival.html
Raging nothing indeed, Amanda. This is too much fun! One more quote from the literary behemoth that is Irene Iddesleigh. It is a novel of a doomed marriage and here poor John tirades against Irene for her aloofness in their relationship:

"Irene, if I may use such familiarity, I have summoned you hither, it may be to undergo a stricter examination than your present condition probably permits; but knowing, as you should, my life must be miserable under this growing cloud of unfathomed dislike, I became resolved to end, if within my power, such contentious and unlady-like conduct as that practised by you towards me of late. It is now six months - yea, weary months - since I shielded you from open penury and insult, which were bound to follow you, as well as your much-loved protectors, who sheltered you from the pangs of penniless orphanage; and during these six months, which naturally should have been the pet period of nuptial harmony, it has proved the hideous period of howling dislike!”

It goes on for several more paragraphs before ending with:

“Speak! Irene! Wife! Woman! Do not sit in silence and allow the blood that now boils in my veins to ooze through cavities of unrestrained passion and trickle down to drench me with its crimson hue!"

If any of the above should leave you feeling inclined to read any of her works, I should warn you they're out of print and prices start at around $ 300. That's the price you pay for kitsch, I guess.

A bibliography of the works of Amanda McKittrick Ros:

Irene Iddesleigh (novel, 1897)
Delina Delaney (novel, 1898)
Poems of Puncture (poetry, 1912)
Fumes of Formation (poetry, 1933)
Helen Huddleston (posthumous novel)
Jack Loudan (1954) O Rare Amanda!: The Life of Amanda McKittrick Ros (London: Chatto & Windus 1954)
Thine in Storm and Calm - An Amanda McKittrick Ros Reader, edited by Frank Ormsby(The Blackstaff Press, 1988.)

Monday, November 06, 2006

79. Thank Youse III

Thank you Jorge Luis Borges
"....but in the afternoon that might be gold
he smiles at his curious fate
and feels that peculiar happiness
which comes from loved old things."

Thank you Jon Dressel
"...let's hear it for Goliath, a big
boy who got bad press but
who did his job, absorbed a flukey
shot, and died with a thud."

Thank you Kenneth Koch
"One friend may hide another, you sit at the
foot of a tree
With one and when you get up to leave there is another
Whom you’d have preferred to talk to all along."

Thank you Lawrence Raab
"At the end you looked back at your life and saw
how the pieces fit together — why there was weeping,
and what made it stop. So the past isn't over
until you understand it, which is one of the reasons
ghosts keep appearing. They need you to see
who they were, and sometimes
they won't rest until you forgive them."

Thank you Linda Pastan
"Perhaps we should have stayed
tied like mountain climbers
by the safe cord of the phone,
its dial our own small prayer wheel,
our voices less ghostly across the miles,
less awkward than they are now."

Thank you Mark Van Doren
"Then I would tell as best I could
The secrets of that shining place:
The web of the world, how thick, how thin,
How firm, with all things folded in;
How ancient, and how full of grace."

Thank you Mary Oliver
"You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though the melancholy
was terrible."

Thank you Miguel de Unamumo
"Shake off this sadness, and recover your spirit;
sluggish you will never see the wheel of fate
that brushes your heel as it turns going by,
the man who wants to live is the man in whom life is

Thank you Naomi Shihab Nye
"But happiness floats.
It doesn’t need you to hold it down.
It doesn’t need anything.
Happiness lands on the roof of the next house, singing,
and disappears when it wants to."

Thank you Norbert Krapf
"The rhythm swelled
like the sea, as I imagined it to sound.
I could see leaves of grass growing
on the graves of soldiers."

Thank you Pablo Neruda
"Love crosses its islands, from grief to grief,
it sets its roots, watered with tears,
and no one––no one––can escape the heart’s progress
as it runs, silent and carnivorous."