Apparently some asshat asked another jackass by the name of V.S. Naipaul about which women writers
could beat him at arm-wrestling were equal to him, and the jackass took the opportunity to say he was better than all women writers including Jane Austen. Wow, V.S., you propped yourself up against a woman who’s been dead for decades! So courageous!
Over at She Writes, Kamy Wicoff is about as impressed with this display of cock-measuring as I am:
To be sure, I believe that literature can be judged. Like porn, good writing is one of those things that is difficult to define, but relatively easy to distinguish from the other kind (writing that is bad). The range of writing that people like, however, is as broad as humanity, and once certain things have been established — good sentence structure, good story-telling, good fact-checking, and so on — what appeals to one reader or another is anybody’s guess, and everybody’s right to decide for themselves. Informed decisions are preferable, and to that end I am grateful for the critics and scholars who devote themselves to the study of the craft; but only so long as education, not declaration, is their aim. Writing is not a contest, and by definition can never be. There are too many variables, far too much subjectivity, and the work itself defies definable metrics or binary judgments. It is this defiance of clearcut “answers” that makes writing, and reading, such deeply pleasurable activities and such individual joys; our tastes are something each of us can own and define.
I’m all like, look, fuckhead, I am not going to stress myself out trying to come up with a list of women writers that I can “prove” are at least as good as you. To do that, I would first have to read a novel or two of yours, and I’m a mite busy with writing my own, and besides, after that display of dumbassery, I just can’t be bothered.
Instead, I merely remarked on Twitter,