Anxiety of Envy

Alexander Nazaryan writes with discomfiting honesty about how his own failure at novel-writing and envy of published novelists has affected his book reviewing:

“I had started reviewing books, a dangerous occupation for an aspiring novelist, sort of like inviting an arsonist to join the fire department. As my own rejection letters piled up, it became unbearable to stomach the notion that others — many of whom seemed, from their biographies, to have sacrificed much less than I had — were being celebrated while I lurked in the byways of the literary world.

“Consequently, the reviews I wrote came to bear a stench of bitterness, none more so than one I wrote for the Village Voice in 2008 in which I took on two debut novelists, Keith Gessen and Nathaniel Rich. After comparing them to James Joyce and Ralph Ellison, I proceed to snidely savage their work. It is true: I did not like their novels. But my dislike was set aflame by jealousy of young men whose profiles were similar to mine and who had managed to do what I had not.”

He knows he would be a healthier human being if he just gave up his hopes of publishing a novel: “But I cannot do it, and not even failure can check me.”

"Thank you for this very short article. I cannot express an opinion on Michael J. ..."

Canon and Church
"This misses the issue. Only a very ill-informed Catholic or Orthodox (of whom, sadly, there ..."

Canon and Church
"FYI our Uniting Church of Australia has its Pitt Street Uniting Church led by a ..."

Canon and Church
"I quite agree. But our knowledge of Jesus comes from the narrative traditions which were ..."

Canon and Church

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!