This fact maybe illustrates why so many writers are bad boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands, and wives (but let’s face it, mostly bad boyfriends and husbands) — especially from the point of view of their writing to their significant others. Kafka in particular seemed incapable of thinking about his writing, on any topic, as anything but writing, in a literary sense. So his putative love letters are filled with sudden ironies and reversals, meditations on ambiguity, contingency, and the self. The dude couldn’t get out of his own head, or out of his own way.
“Introducing Myself” changed my life at 16, and it’s only become more resonant in the decades since
Le Guin’s essay “Introducing Myself.” “I am a man,” she begins, and goes on to spin a sardonic fable rich with wordplay, arguing, with dripping sarcasm, that “man” is what she must be — since to be a person, one must, it seems, be a man.
That first sentence shocked me with its daring. I read the whole thing through, my heart beating faster with each new paragraph, and when I got done I walked it straight over to the copy machine and ran off two copies and rushed back to my speech coach as fast as I could go.
“We have been told that there is only one kind of people and they are men,” Le Guin writes. “And I think it is very important that we all believe that. It certainly is important to the men.”
.. First, there was an intake of breath at the thought that this was what writing could be: this sort of knowing, joking wit that was also deeply confessional and intimate. And second, a deeper realization that this is what being a woman could be: someone at once wise and self-questioning, seeking understanding and answers, unfeminine but not masculine, unflinchingly intellectual.
I’ve heard a lot of bad things about Wallace’s journalistic ethics – basically misrepresenting the actual story, not the big lines but lots of the details, for stylistic effect. He was not a rigorous searcher of actual truth, just some kind of idealized “emotional truth”, and in an era where “alternative facts” is considered an acceptable way to respond to an outright lie, that’s not something to emulate. It’s been a while so I don’t have the exact links to the articles that mention this. (I think some of it was in the biography of Wallace by DT Max.)