THE AGE OF THE NOVEL: Emergence of a gifted young writer!

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 23, 2019

Who may have her thumb on the scale:
Jennifer Weiner thinks very highly of Chanel Miller as a gifted young writer, and we aren't here to tell you she's wrong.

On Sunday, October 13, Weiner reviewed Miller's new book, Know My Name: A Memoir, for the New York Times Book Review section. (Weiner's review had appeared on line several weeks before.)

"Miller is a poetic, precise writer with an eye for detail," Weiner writes in her review. She also says the following, and we won't tell you these judgments are wrong:
" 'Know My Name' is a beautifully written, powerful, important story. It marks the debut of a gifted young writer."
We aren't literary critics around here, but we aren't going to tell you that these judgments are wrong. As it turns out, Miller's mother is a writer, one who has written four books in Chinese. Based upon the memoir in question, it sounds like Miller came of age with the thought that she too might become a writer. Her book seems to the work of an actual writer from its first few words on.

That said, Miller is also a young writer, and her book was written during a somewhat peculiar era. We're referring to this era as The Age of the Novel. It's an era during which the liberal world has been constructing novelized versions of highly important real-world events, sanding off all complexity until we're left with the primal anger, fear and loathing traditionally associated with the world of the fairy tale.

According to Weiner, Miller is a gifted writer, but she's one who is also quite young. There would be no reason to expect such a young person to overturn or challenge the cultural oddities of her time and her place, and it seems to us that she doesn't do so—not at all—in her well written new book.

Upper-end mainstream reviewers like Weiner aren't going to notice such facts. Consider the passage, shown below, in which Weiner attempts to capture Miller's strengths as a writer:
WEINER (10/13/19): “Know My Name” is an act of reclamation. On every page, Miller unflattens herself, returning from Victim or Emily Doe to Chanel, a beloved daughter and sister, whose mother emigrated from China to learn English and become a writer and whose father is a therapist; a girl who was so shy that, in an elementary school play about a safari, she played the grass. Miller reads “Rumi, Woolf, Didion, Wendell Berry, Mary Oliver, Banana Yoshimoto, Miranda July, Chang-rae Lee, Carlos Bulosan.” She rides her bike “through the Baylands … across crunchy salt and pickleweed.” She fosters elderly rescue dogs with names like Butch and Remy and Squid. She rages against a form that identifies “victim’s race” as white. “Never in my life have I checked only white. You cannot note my whiteness without acknowledging I am equal parts Chinese.”
In that passage, we're told that Miller isn't just a gifted young writer. We're told that she's also been a reader—and that she fosters elderly rescue dogs with names like Butch and Squid.

Perhaps a bit oddly, we're also told, or seem to be told, that Miller "was so shy" when she was a girl that "in an elementary school play about a safari, she played the grass." Weiner seems to present this as a fact, as a fact on a par with the factual statements about Miller's mother and father.

Did Miller actually "play the grass" in a grade school production? We're prepared to assume that she did. That said, a slightly less accepting reviewer might be struck by the way Miller "unflattens herself" with this revelation.

Depending on where you start counting, the claim about that grade school play is the very first claim Miller makes in her book. After a brief Introduction, in which Miller reveals her age, her Chapter 1 starts like this:
MILLER (page 1): I am shy. In elementary school for a play about a safari, everyone else was an animal. I was grass. I've never asked a question in a large lecture hall. You can find me hidden in the corner of any exercise class. I'll apologize if you bump into me. I'll accept every pamphlet you hand out on the street. I've always rolled my shopping cart back to its place of origin. If there's no more half-and-half on the counter at the coffee shop, I'll drink my coffee black. If I sleep over, the blankets will look like they've never been touched.

I've never thrown my own birthday party. I'll put on three sweaters before I ask you to turn on the heat. I'm okay with losing board games. I stuff my coins haphazardly into my purse to avoid holding up the checkout line. When I was little I wanted to grow up and become a mascot, so I'd have the freedom to dance without being seen.
There follows a third paragraph which seems intended to demonstrate how shy—or perhaps, how thoughtful and understanding—Miller is.

"My whole life I've counted in tigers," she writes at the end of this third paragraph. She is now on the second page of her thoroughly written new book.

Is Miller so shy that she played the grass in a grade school production? For ourselves, it's hard to know how to react to the several claims lodged within that statement.

For her own part, Weiner accepts this declaration on face. She seems to say that it's merely one part of the way Miller "unflattens herself" in her book.

That said, Miller never exactly explains why she starts her book with a page-long rumination about how shy she is. A more searching reviewer might notice that this opening passage defines Miller, not simply as shy, but also as the most accommodating person who ever appeared on the earth:

She hurries away from the checkout line with her purse all a mess, then puts her shopping cart where it belongs. That's how "shy" she is, based on her own self-description!

Miller does strike us as a gifted young writer, and writers gotta write. That said, she starts her book, not merely by unflattening herself, but also by presenting herself in a rather peculiar light.

She won't ask you to turn on the heat, nor will she tell the barista that there's no half-and-half! This is a rather peculiar self-portrait, but Weiner is willing to plow right ahead. She repeats its first presentation as established fact and sees no reason to wonder about the way Miller "unflattens" herself.

As noted, Miller is a very young person. With perfect justice, Weiner describes her as "a gifted young writer."

Miller is gifted but young. For ourselves, we would never expect a young person to straighten out the cultural foibles and failures of the floundering adult culture into which she's emerging.

We especially wouldn't expect that of a young person who is writing about having been sexually assaulted, and a duly constituted jury unanimously decided that Miller was sexually assaulted in the aftermath of a Stanford frat party in January 2015.

We would never expect such a person to overthrow the cultural practices which define this, The Age of the Novel. It's an era in which our liberal world is strongly inclined to discard plainly relevant facts; to perhaps invent inaccurate facts; to stress wholly irrelevant facts; and to ignore the most elementary bits of logic, all in service to the need to construct simplified stories designed to encourage anger and loathing by creating simplified, highly familiar, standardized heroes and villains.

Again and again, our floundering tribe's novelized stories have tended to bleed into the realm of the Brothers Grimm—into the scary, familiar realm of the fairy tale.

We wouldn't ask a very young person who has sustained an act of sexual assault to address this peculiar, unhelpful tribal culture. We would perhaps think that major journalists might be able to take such steps—and then there's the (former) president of Stanford University, on whose campus this act of assault occurred.

Why did Miller, a gifted young writer, start her book with that slightly peculiar, perhaps self-flattering act of self-description? We can't answer that question, but we can say this:

In Miller's book, but also in major reviews, some elementary facts have disappeared and some obvious questions have gone unaddressed. Beyond that, one apparent villain, if it's villains we need, has been allowed to slide from the scene.

Tomorrow, we'll start asking why.

Tomorrow: A pair of terrible numbers

33 comments:

  1. Yeah, your gifted young writer (or more likely her ghost-writer) does sound quite syrupy and corny.

    Oh well, dear Bob, this is exactly what you liberal zombies like. Demand-supply, what else?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
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  2. Somerby is such an ass that he doesn't realize that the narrative on the first several pages about how shy and accommodating Miller considers herself, is about why she wouldn't normally seek the spotlight by writing a book about herself. That would be obvious to any normal human being, any participant on planet earth, but not to Somerby.

    Somerby says: "Did Miller actually "play the grass" in a grade school production? We're prepared to assume that she did. That said, a slightly less accepting reviewer might be struck by the way Miller "unflattens herself" with this revelation."

    Could she have played grass in an elementary school play? Of course she could. Students play trees and similar background parts all the time, because teachers have to find a way for all students to participate, even the ones who do not want to speak any lines and can't be counted on to move about, given stage fright. Simply being on stage is enough challenge for some students.

    Somerby behaves as if he had never been a teacher, never encountered such kids. He impugns Miller with his doubt, implying that she is overwriting, not writing, manufacturing specious details about her life, as if he knew her and could tell an exaggeration from reality, as if he were there in some actual sense. Why question her statement about being grass? Because he wants to question the rest of her details about her life, especially the ones concerning the rotten things some men do to women.

    Or maybe she didn't actually play grass and her remark is a joke, a long-repeated quip about her desire to avoid being seen by others, humor. But wouldn't Somerby, a comedian, recognize humor? Why would he take her statement literally if he recognized it as a joke?

    And does it really matter whether she was literally grass or not, as a child, in a school play? We will find out if she laces her book with subtle humor by reading on, as Somerby should have done if he were going to critique it.

    But Somerby doesn't understand the various kinds of truth that exist in human discourse, because his goal is not to understand Miller but to undermine her narrative by suggesting that bitches be lying. What an asshole he is.

    ReplyDelete
  3. "We especially wouldn't expect that of a young person who is writing about having been sexually assaulted, and a duly constituted jury unanimously decided that Miller was sexually assaulted in the aftermath of a Stanford frat party in January 2015."

    Miller's book isn't about that sexual assault. It is about herself and her recovery from that event.

    This is Somerby's huge mistake. He won't take Miller's word for what her own book is about. It is why he doesn't understand her beginning pages about being shy. Because it is about HER and her reasons for writing, not about Turner.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 'This is Somerby's huge mistake'

      This is not a mistake. Somerby is a 'useless idiot for Trump', trying to attack and concern troll liberals.

      Delete
    2. Today Somerby has called another meeting of the "he-man woman-hater's club -- no girls allowed".

      Delete
  4. I'm not even sure what Somerby is complaining about here. Is he disputing Weiner's interpretation of the quoted passage about Miller being "shy"? Is he claiming that a piece of writing cannot be interpreted more than one way? Is he arguing that Weiner should not have liked Miller's book or expressed appreciation for it in a book review? Somerby doesn't even bother making a clear claim in this post, probably because the "evidence" he cites doesn't support his predetermined conclusion.

    TL/DR: Blah blah blah, this is just another Somerby whine where he builds his I Hate Liberals argument on the most specious foundation.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Miller is doing what women must do when victims of sexual assault. She’s making it clear that despite the fact she got blackout drunk at a party and went out to pee in the yard (a scenario that happens occasionally at that age....so I’ve been informed ...), she’s a nice, unassuming girl, who wouldn’t sweep an ant off a picnic blanket.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Or rape the ant behind a dumpster.

      Delete
  6. “We especially wouldn't expect that of a young person who is writing about having been sexually assaulted, and a duly constituted jury unanimously decided that Miller was sexually assaulted in the aftermath of a Stanford frat party in January 2015."

    Ms Miller *doesn’t remember* being sexually assaulted. Didn’t Somerby make that clear yesterday?

    The book is about the aftermath of that, her coming to terms with it. It is autobiographical, a genre in which a writer tells the reader about herself.

    This post is typical Somerby, all insinuation but no clear statement of anything. He poses questions, only to claim that he can’t answer them.

    His odd sentence as quoted above leads one to ask:

    Is he trying to suggest that the assault never happened, that perhaps the sex was consensual, that liberals have created another fairy tale surrounding this event, that Miller (perhaps unwittingly, because she is so “young”, at 27 years old) is helping to further this fairy tale by embellishing or creating facts about herself? Can her “peculiar” description of herself really be an attempt to make herself seem more innocent and flawless than she in fact is?

    We can’t answer these questions.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. “We can’t answer these questions.”

      You have your choice of two narratives here, folks. Only two, nothing else, as usual.

      You’re either fer Miller or agin her. No other point is allowable.

      Delete
    2. Am I for Miller? Did I suggest that? Did I suggest Somerby was against Miller? No, and no. Did I suggest that there is no nuance?

      No. I did not.

      I am merely using Somerby’s technique to suggest what Somerby is implying, since he never clearly states it. His insinuations do not make for a clear, concise argument. And his positing of a Grand Liberal Fairy Tale is a bit much if all he wants to do is question Miller’s account, her veracity, or her character.

      Delete

    3. “His insinuations do not make for a clear, concise argument.”

      Then let me help you out.

      Somerby’s clearly stated and concise argument is that journos should be journos, not stenographers for any narrative.

      Delete
    4. It’s a book review, not a report about the incident. Besides, Somerby clearly indicates there is something peculiar about Miller’s account. That is questioning *her*, and not just the book reviewer. He coyly insinuates that Miller may be too young to realize how she is helping the Liberal Fairy Tale. He is questioning her as much as the “journalist.” After all, Miller is the one with the “narrative”.

      Delete
    5. Ostensibly professional book reviewing requires more than stenography skills, it requires analytical ones as well. Not to mention questioning, evaluating, and as particularly relevant in Weiner’s case; emotional distance and a desire to know all the facts.

      Delete
    6. Cecelia, Somerby was complaining that she couldn't do the stenography right and got Miller's age wrong. He isn't complaining about her "analysis" because he didn't quote any problems with that, other than assuming that readers would get angry hearing about the author being raped. Personally, I don't consider that leading or analysis -- what human being wouldn't get angry about the facts of this case.

      If you, a decent human being, came across a person unconscious in a public place, wouldn't you call 911 or go get a friend or do something to help? Would you sexually assault them, helpless as they are and unable to resist? Careful with your answer -- this is a test of both character and willingness to obey the laws of our land (which do forbid assault with penetration of an unconscious individual).

      Somerby thinks that Weiner should take Turner's conviction with a grain of salt and perhaps question his guilt because of Miller's narrative (gaps in her memory?). That isn't how the justice system works. You call Turner's crimes "alleged" until he gets his day in court. After his conviction, you call him a felon unless his verdict is overturned in some way. That hasn't happened, so we must assume he did the dirty deeds he was convicted of doing.

      Somerby has no basis for insisting that Weiner or anyone else reviewing Miller's book (which is not about the crime but about her subjective experiences as a victim) should consider Turner possibly not guilty. That is unfair to Miller and it is also not the way our system works.

      And what is Somerby's "evidence"? He doesn't like the way Miller portrays herself as grass, and he doesn't like it that she can't remember what happened prior to waking up with Turner on top of her. But don't forget that there was a lucid eye witness and that Turner's own account(s) of what happened didn't make sense to the jury. And there is physical evidence of the crime too. How much evidence does Somerby need? There is a point at which Somerby could be accused of not wanting to recognize the truth about what happened.

      But you and Somerby keep forgetting -- this book is NOT Miller's side of the assault. It is about her experiences as a nameless victim and the aftermath, as she tried to get her life together and become a writer. It is a reminder that women are harmed by assault, even when men think they haven't really been done any harm. Somerby wants a true-crime analysis of the evidence. That isn't what the book is about. Why should Weiner criticize it on that basis when that isn't the goal of the author?

      Many people read books to have an emotional experience, preferably a transformative one. Maybe men don't do that as much as women, but not all books are intended to be "objective" or dispassionate. And all lives are lived as a narrative that goes: once upon a time I was born, I lived and had struggles and triumphs and pain, and then I died. Messing with that narrative structure, which parallels our experience of time and the way we mentally organize events in memory, would be a disruption of the expectations of the reader. That's why people generally hate flashbacks and flash forwards in movies and books.

      Delete
    7. 'Somerby’s clearly stated and concise argument is that journos should be journos, not stenographers for any narrative. '


      Somerby's meandering and totally nonconcise argument is that journos should attack liberals and be deferential to the likes of Roy Moore, Donald Trump and Ron Johnson.

      Delete
    8. 4:14pm, Somerby did not "intimate" that he thinks Weiner should have been skeptical as to the guilt of the accused or that she should treat Miller skeptically as to whether or not she was really asking for it...or whatever formulation that’s used to pin that sort of thinking on him.

      I don’t know how you read Weiner's riffs on culture and still did not ascertain Somerby’s point about shoehorning this incident into a file marked "College Boy Rapists" while not bothering to explain the things that make this case different (and that's not synonymous with the word "questionable").

      I’d rather be enjoying Somerby than defending him. He’s got deadrat for that. However, I am starting to understand how the NYT might think that many people need their Here To Help column/primer-on-breathing.

      Delete
    9. We can’t answer these questions.

      Oh, sure we can. Just as soon as we recover our breath from the effort of patting ourselves on the back.

      Is he trying to suggest that the assault never happened

      No, not least because there’s clear forensic evidence and eyewitness testimony that it did.

      that perhaps the sex was consensual,

      No, the victim was black-out drunk at the time, legally unable to grant legal consent to anything

      that liberals have created another fairy tale surrounding this event,

      No, the entire narrative, true, false, or in between, was created by the author who was the victim.

      that Miller … is ... embellishing or creating facts about herself?

      Probably. That’s what human beings of all sexes and genders do.

      Can her “peculiar” description of herself really be an attempt to make herself seem more innocent and flawless than she in fact is?

      Probably. For the same reason.

      Delete
    10. I’d rather be enjoying Somerby than defending him. He’s got deadrat for that.

      It's a thankless job, but nobody has to do it. And I'm certainly nobody enough.

      (It's exhausting to make sense here, isn't it?)

      Delete
    11. “(It's exhausting to make sense here, isn't it?)”

      You do it well.

      Delete
    12. Thanks. Falls into the category of worst superpower ever.

      Delete
    13. @deadrat
      “No, the entire narrative, true, false, or in between, was created by the author who was the victim.”

      She did not create the narrative *about the assault*, because she *doesn’t remember it.*

      Her narrative is about herself, before and after the incident.

      Somerby brings up liberals in connection with Miller and her book:

      “our liberal world is strongly inclined to discard plainly relevant facts; to perhaps invent inaccurate facts; to stress wholly irrelevant facts; and to ignore the most elementary bits of logic, all in service to the need to construct simplified stories designed to encourage anger and loathing by creating simplified, highly familiar, standardized heroes and villains”

      What facts have liberals invented in connection with this incident? What irrelevant facts are being stressed by liberals? Who is the “standardized villain” in the liberal story of this incident? Is Miller a liberal who is engaging in this novelization?

      How does this book and the review fit into the novelization that Somerby claims liberals do?

      Delete
    14. Her narrative is about herself, before and after the incident.
      Agreed.

      What facts have liberals invented in connection with this incident?

      I haven't read the book or its review, but I don't think liberals are involved with either. The author and the reviewer are living in the Age of the Novel, which includes our political discourse.

      How does this book and the review fit into the novelization that Somerby claims liberals do?

      "In Miller's book, but also in major reviews," according to TDH, we find the unchallenged narrative that's of a piece with our political discourse and which sweeps up a young author too inexperienced to resist it. The book is a microcosm of our "cultural practices."

      Does that help or make things worse?

      Delete
    15. "I haven't read the book"

      If I were you I would start on page 33 and proceed carefully from there Sparky.

      Delete
  7. Bob is too polite, so to cut to the chase:

    Chanel Miller claims she was really shy and deferential, yet she went to a frat party, got blackout drunk, peed outside, and wound up behind a dumpster, unconscious, with a guy on top of her.

    Now she tells a story where she is the angelic heroine, and the guy, the alleged perpetrator, is the villain. And this suits liberals just fine, whose world consists of Fairy Tale Heroines and Villains.

    ReplyDelete
  8. 'Again and again, our floundering tribe's novelized stories have tended to bleed into the realm of the Brothers Grimm—into the scary, familiar realm of the fairy tale. '

    Your usual public service announcement, that Somerby is no liberal but a Trumptard, and his tribe is the tribe of Trumptards.

    ReplyDelete
  9. "In Miller's book, but also in major reviews, some elementary facts have disappeared and some obvious questions have gone unaddressed. Beyond that, one apparent villain, if it's villains we need, has been allowed to slide from the scene."

    I really don't know what villain Somerby is talking about, who has been "allowed" to slide away.

    I would speculate that it is liberals who are the villains, but why doesn't Somerby explicitly state who he means with this closing remark? This unwillingness to take responsibility for his own innuendo is one reason why Somerby is being criticized here, day in and day out.

    @1:06 apparently doesn't know that shy people are more likely to use alcohol to cope with social anxiety. In residential colleges, the kids with the most difficulty making the social transition to college are the most likely to become involved with drugs and drinking, because druggies accept anyone as long as they adhere to druggie norms, and the same with those who binge drink.

    Since guys don't get raped with the same frequency, it is easy for men to blame women for what men do to them. Somerby perhaps wants to suggest that the rules of partying and the laws don't apply to someone caught in the act, if the perpetrator is a young man with a promising future in organized swimming. Because obviously, young women (supported by liberals screaming about rape culture) make things up just because some guy jumps on them while they are passed out. And girls just can't take a joke, like when the frat boys draw a penis on a passed out friend's face with a permanent marker, and that is all good fun but the girls don't see it that way because of those stoopid liberals. And if a frat boy or two dies from excess alcohol consumption during hazing or some other frat ritual, that is part of learning to be men, right bros?

    But Somerby's villain is perhaps Weiner, who got Miller's age wrong, and thus needs to be burned at the stake because rape (sorry, sexual assault with penetration) gets you 6 months whereas women never do anything right and shouldn't be allowed anywhere near a pen and pencil, or they might whine about how evil men are.

    Is that about right?

    ReplyDelete
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  11. JUST MADE IT
    Hello world, so I'm beyond grateful to Chief Dr. Ebore for helping me with a very powerful spell to get the lottery winning numbers. I won the lottery of 448.4 million US Dollars a week ago in a jackpot from 7 lottery play. The first thing I bought was a house with all the features I never dreamed I'd have. From there, I manifested my perfect dream car. I want to appreciate Dr. Ebore for his loyalty and magical works. It exists only in the right hands and with it everything is possible... He is also good in get your ex love back, healing, pregnancy, lottery winning and other spells etc. If you need any of this spell you can get in touch with him. Google mail:- EHITEMPLE@GMAIL.COM,
    WhatsApp number:- +1 (972) 383 9289 Love & Light!.

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  12. I want to share a testimony of how Dr.Osemuhau herbal mixture cream saves me from shame and disgrace, my penis was a big problem to me as the size was really so embarrassing,and i was also having weak erection problem. I can't make love to my wife and my penis was just too small a full grown man like me having 4 inches penis and to worsen it i don't last in sex i cant even last two minutes it was really a thing of shame to me. My wife was really tired of me because my sex life was very poor,she never enjoyed sex,i was always thinking and searching for solutions everywhere until when i saw a testimony of how Dr.Osemuhau herbal mixture cream have been helping people regarding their sex life, so i decided to give him a try and to my greatest surprise in less than one week of taking the herbs my penis grow to 8 inches i couldn't believe my eyes and as i speak now my penis is now 8 inches and i do not have week erection again. I can make love to my wife longer in bed. And my marriage is now stable,my wife now enjoy me very well in bed. can contact him drosemuhau@gmail.com {) or call or what-apps him through +2348168714427

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  13. Hello viewers around the Globe, I was despondent because i had a very small penis, about 2.5 inches soft and 4 inches hard not nice enough to satisfy a woman, i have been in so many relationship, but cut off because of my situation, i have used so many product which doctors prescribe for me, but none could offer me the help i searched for. i saw some few comments on the internet about this specialist called Dr, OLHIA and i decided to contact him on his {oliha.miraclemedicine@gmail.com} so I decided to give his herbal product a try. i emailed him and he got back to me, he gave me some comforting words with his herbal pills for Penis Enlargement, Within 3 week of it, i began to feel the enlargement of my penis, " and now it just 4 weeks of using his products my penis is about 9 inches longer, and i had to settle out with my Ex girlfriend Ella, i was surprised when she said that she is satisfied with my sex and i have got a large penis. Am so happy, thanks to Dr OLIHA I also learn that Dr OLIHA also help with Breast Enlargement Hips and Bums Enlargement etc.. If you are in any situation with a little Penis, weak ejaculation, small breast_hips_bums do get to Dr OLIHA now for help on his email {oliha.miraclemedicine@gmail.com} or whats app him number: +2349038382931

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