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Has Hollywood Hijacked Our Novelists?

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The Guardian has an irritating blog post about LA writers. The gist: LA poet and novelist Rob Woodard wonders where all the good novelists in LA have gone. He points to the well-known "great" LA writers (Chandler, Nathaniel West, John Fante, Bukowski) and a few others, then deems LA literature mostly dead for the past thirty years.

His reasoning? Would-be novelists have been lured by Hollywood into screenwriting and joke-writing for the late night shows. He even goes so far as to define such writing as "easy work" done in an industry that is "artistically negligible" and by mere association, makes it seems as if this kind of writing isn't really writing at all.

We'd say tell it to the WGA writers who work their asses off writing every day, but he's already thought of them:

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I have come to realise that, as a group, these screenwriters are Los Angeles' most influential authors. As an Angeleno novelist and poet, however, I find myself bristling at the idea that those making their living within fields which are so often artistically negligible have attained this position.

But that's not where the insults end. Woodard (who, it should be noted, hasn't written anything for the screen that we can find) goes on to say that watching the WGA strike has been upsetting to him:

Where are LA's great writers? I'm sure a few at least are writing sit-com dialogue or cranking out jokes for late-night talk show hosts - and it is this reality that for a lover of literature such as myself makes watching their brave push to obtain a fair contract such a bittersweet affair.

You know what this sounds like to us? A bitter poet who couldn't get a sitcom job if he tried. Because if he had tried - and succeeded - he would surely know it isn't "easy." We're pretty sure that writing 30 Rock and The Wire and many other shows that we adore isn't easy. We'd say how dare he, but we're so offended by his other crazy claim that we can't really concentrate on his annoying "screenwriting is easy" claim. Woodard's big complaint is: "Where are LA's great writers?" Really? How can you live in LA and say something like that out loud? Los Angeles is filled with many excellent writers - of the novelist sort and the screenwriter sort -- and has been for the thirty or so years in question. We could list a few dozen without even trying. Can you?

Photo by tj scenes via Flickr