Writers and Envy

15 September, 2022

If you smith words for a living (or because you enjoy it), you find yourself spending a lot of time reading. Not just for research, but because you enjoy good writing. Sometimes, you come across the work of a writer who you want to punch in the face. Why? Because they’re just that darned good.

I devoted 2021 to rereading a number of books. One of them was C by Tom McCarthy. He’s one of those writers I want to punch. Several times. Yes, he is that good.

C is the story of Serge Carrefax, a man born at the dawn of the age of electricity and wireless. The novel weaves the tale of how technology influenced and shaped Carrefax and, by extension, influenced and shaped the world. Even though I don’t write fiction, I have to admire McCarthy’s technique. Some people have said the novel is Pynchonesque (and in some ways it is), but the story also has McCarthy’s own distinct stamp on it.

I do envy McCarthy as a writer. But reading (or rereading) his work and the work of other skilled writers gives me something to aim for. I may never reach their heights, but it’s worth a try.

Scott Nesbitt