Eppur si muove

http://www.thestranger.com/books/features/2015/02/27/21792750/things-i-can-say-about-mfa-writing-programs-now-that-i-no-longer-teach-in-one

Worth reading, whether or not you like its message.

The author is bitter in places, and it seems like bitterness is one of the common outcomes of employment in the academe. And is also one of the most uncool of emotions. And the academe seems like a relentless Gehenna.

But I like at least one thing the author said: “… writing that’s motivated by the desire to give the reader a pleasurable experience really is best.”

Reading is pretty important, especially in a postliterate age when reading is regarded as a little strange, a little suspicious. I read “the classics” not because they are part of any Canon, or because somebody told me to go read them, but because they contain good stories and passages of beauty.

Edith Wharton; George Eliot; Joyce Carol Oates; Marilynne Robinson; Jorge Luis Borges. Toni Morrison. Eudora Welty. Flannery O’Connor. Lucille Clifton; Gwendolyn Brooks; Cornelius Eady. Melville. Some of these are classics, and some should be. I think these writers have talent, and I mean “talent” in the most magic and occulted way. I think they have done, or did, a lot of reading.

I do not know where people get talent, but I think, wherever it comes from, talent is nurtured by reading and by difficult work.

It is pleasurable to read stories and poems that are entertaining and also rigorous. I like a crafted story that gives me subtle clues I need to think about. I can tell if a writer has been a lifelong reader. And when she has done careful research and is intent on the imperative goal of showing her reader a great time.

— Eric Bourland

Contraction it’s given over to possessive case

“The hell with it,” say nation’s top grammarians

by Eric Bourland for Hwaet.com.

CHICAGO IL — A consortium of the nation’s top grammarians has revised the rules of grammar to permit the use of the word it’s as a possessive nominative pronoun. The revision was announced at a press conference today at the University of Chicago.

“Most people write it’s as a possessive anyway, so we figured, the hell with it,” said John Grossman, Managing Editor of the venerable Chicago Manual of Style.

Grossman was clutching a bottle.

“They write A South American poison dart frog sits atop it’s keeper’s thumb during feeding time,” said Grossman, or “The aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln pulls into Everett, Wash., as a fireboat shoots it’s water cannons.

A smirking Grossman held up placards that illustrated the formerly erroneous sentences. He then threw the placards on the ground and swigged from his bottle while cameras flashed around him.

“Since the it’s error is ubiquitous, we suppose it’s no longer an error,” said Karen Judd, author of the respected Copyediting: A Practical Guide. “That’s the [redacted] evolution of the language, right?”

She tapped Grossman on the shoulder, took his bottle, and drank.

Members of the consortium stated that they changed the grammatical rule to give a much-needed break to editors everywhere.

“If you’re an editor, you can spend hours explaining to your colleagues and writers the difference between it’s and its, and most of the time no one believes you anyway,” said Karen Elizabeth Gordon, author of the well-known grammar handbook The Transitive Vampire. “So now both it’s and its correctly indicate the possessive. We have saved editors a lot of stress.

“Like anyone gives a [redacted] anyway,” she said.

New iterations of dictionaries, textbooks, and grammar and style guides will reflect the grammatical change.

“Next, I bet we’ll be revising the relative pronouns which and that,” said Grossman, staggering slightly. “No one gives a [redacted] anymore about separating restrictive clauses from non-restrictive.”

“Yeah, they think if they write which instead of that, their words sound more important,” said Gordon, momentarily tussling with Grossman for the bottle.

“We might as well go ahead and endorse the use of a lot of for many, too,” said Judd.

“Or comprise for compose,” said Gordon.

“Or literally as an intensifier,” said Judd.

“Or nauseous for nauseating,” said Gordon.

“Or empathetic for empathic,” said Judd.

“Yeah, just [redacted] it all to [redacted],” said Grossman, glaring into the cameras. “Who took my [redacted] bottle?”