Suppose he had written the Oral History, I reflected: it probably wouldn't have been the great book he had gone up and down the highways and byways prophesying it would be at all — great books, even halfway great books, even good books, even halfway good books, being so exceedingly rare... Anyway, I decided, if there was anything the human race had a sufficiency of, a sufficiency and a surfeit, it was books, the Niagara of books, the rushing rivers of books, the oceans of books, the tons and truckloads and trainloads of books that were pouring off the presses of the world at that very moment, only a very few of which would be worth picking up and looking at, let alone reading. I began to feel that it was admirable that he hadn’t written it. One less book to clutter up the world, one less book to take up space and catch dust and go unread from bookstores to homes to second-hand bookstores and junk stores and thrift shops to still other homes to still other second-hand bookstores and junk stores and thrift shops to still other homes ad infinitum.Combine that sentiment with Hemingway's "There is no use writing anything that has been written before unless you can beat it. What a writer in our time has to do is write what hasn't been written before or beat dead men at what they have done." and you'll see why my literary output has been so limited.
Joseph Mitchell — Joe Gould's Secret
Labels: Book Selections