Lauren B. Davis

Lauren B. Davis
Princeton, New Jersey, United States
September 05
Lauren B. Davis's new novel, OUR DAILY BREAD (HarperCollins Canada, 2012; and Wordcraft of Oregon, 2011), was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and chosen as one of the "Very Best Books of 2011" by The Boston Globe and The Globe & Mail. Her next book, THE EMPTY ROOM, will be published in Canada by HarperCollins Canada in May, 2013. She is also the author of the bestselling and critically acclaimed novels, THE RADIANT CITY, (HarperCollins Canada 2005) a finalist for the Rogers Writers Trust Fiction Prize; and THE STUBBORN SEASON (Harper Collins Canada, 2002), chosen for the Robert Adams Lecture Series; as well as two collections short stories, AN UNREHEARSED DESIRE (Exile Editions, 2008) and RAT MEDICINE & OTHER UNLIKELY CURATIVES (Mosaic Press, 2000). Her short fiction has also been shortlisted for the CBC Literary Awards and she is the recipient of two Mid-Career Writer Sustaining grants from the Canadian Council for the Arts - 2000 and 2006. Lauren leads a monthly writing workshop in Princeton, New Jersey, teaches creative writing at the A.C. Wagner Correctional Facility, and is a past mentor with the Humber College School for Writers, Toronto, and past Writer-in-Residence at Trinity Church, Princeton. For more information, please visit her website at:


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FEBRUARY 9, 2013 9:34AM

You Had Me At 'Torture'

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On this snowy morning, rather than spend my time out frolicking with the Rescuepoo in the drifts (which I promise I'll do in a few minutes, really, Dog... try and be patient!) I feel compelled to enter into the ridiculous fray surrounding  what may be the most unlikely literary pairing I've heard in a long time -- Elizabeth Gilbert and Philip Roth.

There's a WONDERFUL essay in the New Yorker by Avi Steinberg, concerning the dust up, which you really should read if you're interested in writing and/or writers at all.  It is wise beyond it's pages. I read it this morning and by, gosh, it got me thinking.

Philip Roth -- telling truth to emerging writers.
Philip Roth -- telling truth to emerging writers.

Steinberg tells us this literary kerfuffle began when author Julian Tepper wrote a piece in the Paris Review about an encounter he had with his literary hero, Philip Roth, in which Tepper presented him with a copy of his first novel, entitled "Balls". Roth congratulated him and then advised him, for the sake of his sanity, to get out of the writing business as fast as he could.

“I would quit while you’re ahead. Really, it’s an awful field. Just torture. Awful. You write and write, and you have to throw almost all of it away because it’s not any good. I would say just stop now. You don’t want to do this to yourself. That’s my advice to you.”

Professionally-upbeat author Elizabeth Gilbert took umbrage with this and wrote a piece declaring writing to be a "f*cking great job."  She goes on, and I quote Steinberg here, "This is a classified piece of information, she claims, kept secret by vain, jealous older writers."


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Like I told my nephew, "Become a writer not because you love writing not because of the money. If you want a career with money become an accountant or an investment banker not a writer." He took my advice. R
Trudge164 - Did he become an accountant? ;-)
He is just finishing High School, but it seems he has abandoned the writer's idea. It must have been capricious teenage meanderings.
Trudge -- well, T.S. Eliot, Ethan Canin and Faulkner, among others, wisely kept their day jobs. He may come back to us.
How can you not write if writing is one of your true loves?

Roth was clearly bluffing.

I once witnessed an almost dead writer [well, really, he was a pirate; same thing], brought, thankfully, back from the brink, Here's a transcript of what I saw:

Inigo: He's dead. He can't talk [write; same thing].

Miracle Max: Hoo hoo hoo! Look who knows so much, heh? Well, it just so happens that your friend here is only mostly dead. There's a big difference between mostly dead and all dead. Please, open his mouth. Now, mostly dead is slightly alive. Now, all dead...well, with all dead, there's usually only one thing you can do.

Inigo: What's that?

Miracle Max: Go through his clothes and look for loose change.

[Max puts the bellows to Westley's mouth, and blows air in.]
Hey! Hello in there! Hey! What's so important? What you got here that's worth living for?

Westley: T-R-U-E L-O-V-E.

Inigo: "True Love", you heard him? You could not ask for a more noble cause than that.

Miracle Max: Yeah, True Love is the greatest thing in the world, except for a nice MLT---mutton, lettuce and tomato sandwich, when the mutton is nice and lean, and the tomato is ripe. They're so perky. I love that. But that's not what he said---he distinctly said "To blave" and as we all know, to blave means to bluff, heh? So you were probably playing cards, and he cheated--
Wallace Stevens too. I tried to explain to him that you can have a regular career and write, but kids from the digital age want fame and fortune faster than the speed of thought.
Steve Kenny -- thanks! Fun!
Trudge -- couldn't agree with you more. It's heartbreaking, because it does neither the writer, nor literature in general, any good. . . . No one ever listens to me, but I keep writing about that very problem.