India Uncut

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Monday, August 29, 2005

Politicians and novelists

In an article in the Wall Street Journal titled "Lying for a Living" (subscription link), Daniel Akst writes about the similarity between politicians and novelists:
The fact is that politicians and novelists have a lot in common, even beyond the irresistibly cynical observation that they both lie for a living. Members of both camps seem to believe that they have a lot to say, after all, and both feel compelled to say it at great length. Anyone who has been on a book tour can tell you that it feels a little like a political campaign, if a losing one. Contrary to the image of the lonely artist forging his works in the smithy of his soul, the working novelist must be adept at marshaling the support of agents, editors, booksellers and any number of former and current spouses. And these days so many novelists need to teach writing to supplement their income that an aptitude for academic politics is almost part of the job description.

Both politics and fiction-writing depend heavily on public approval, which is why both are such essentially narcissistic lines of work. Members of these two egotistical tribes must also find the right balance between following their principles and giving the public what it wants. Each seeks prizes available only to a select few. And in both camps there is considerable fretting about money.
Hmm. Maybe I should aspire to be a politician as well.

(Link via email from reader Anuj Tiku.)
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