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Does it help?

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Novels that mention the LRB, an occasional series: no.17, The Afterparty by Leo Benedictus. William Mendez, the ever more evasive and ever less sane writer of a novel within the novel, is looking for someone else to pose as its author. His agent suggests a journalist called Leo Benedictus. Mendez replies, by email:

Leo sounds perfect! I’m actually punching the air with my left hand and typing this with my right. (A tough trick. Try it.) I’ve had a look at his stuff online… He’s a different type of writer from me, in some ways, but not too different to be believed. I see he’s done stuff for the London Review of Books too, which can only help, can’t it?

Comments on “Does it help?”

  1. outofdate says:

    Oh, the irony (I quote freely). Did I see some feature in the Guardian or where about auto-fiction and how only men do it? Being frankly wankers? I mean, Lindsay Lohan: how long’s she been a train wreck for? Any man worth his salt would have masturbated himself to death ages ago, auto-asphyxiatingly, barring those possessed of tiger blood. The author Nabokov (on whom, incidentally, a 20-year moratorium must urgently be declared) inserted himself into one of his Russian novels upon translation decades after the sorry fact. ‘Elegant’, that’s what he reckoned he was. It’s an unmitigated pest, and no, it doesn’t help.

  2. outofdate says:

    On second thoughts that theory needs work, but I know I’m on to something. Forget Lindsay Lohan; autoerotic asphyxiation, i.e. excessive masturbation, seems to kill mostly middle-aged men, and auto-fiction is mostly a middle-aged men’s vice, that much is clear. Both can be seen as excessive self-love. The pen-as-penis, you see, turned as it were on itself (ignore the mechanics for the moment). What to make of it, that’s the question.

    Why do women not do either? Say men’s libido is naturally more thrusting (pace Stephen Fry) and becomes a deadly force when turned on itself. But if all writing is some kind of sexual act, that would imply, wouldn’t it, that men are generally more vigorous at it… That can’t be right. Men are more prone to excess? Having once got hold of the wrong end of the stick they are less likely to let go?

    That he-writers are simply vainer would be a very boring answer, but at any rate both practices are an abomination in the eyes of the Lord.

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