Monday March 22nd, 2010

Sound Check

As David Shields’ promotional work for Reality Hunger continues unabated, something dawned on me. In a recent interview on the Bat Segundo Show, Shields disparages a forthcoming novel by Myla Goldberg based on no more, he admits, than seeing the book in the publisher’s catalog. “[N]o offense to her; I haven’t read her work,” he says. “Well, I’ve read her earlier — I’ve read in and around her earlier books. And it seemed the way — frankly, the way in which the book can be entirely summarized as a narrative machine — seemed to me a very, that very fact meant it was, by definition, for me, a dead text.” There’s more, just as bad. And what dawned on me was that I can’t believe some interviewer of Shields hasn’t adopted the strategy of Elaine Stritch in a particular episode of 30 Rock. In the dialogue below, Colleen Donaghy (played by Stritch) is talking to Phoebe (played by Emily Mortimer):

Phoebe: I always thought it would be lovely to get married in the spring, just as the petunias start to bloom.
Colleen: Sorry, Phoebe, what?
Phoebe: I always wanted to marry in the spring, just as the petunias bloom.
Colleen: Just when the what?
Phoebe: Oh dear, is she hard of hearing?
Colleen: No, no, no. I can hear you. I just wanted to make sure you could hear you.