I wrote a piece a while back about the agonies of writing. It’s a savage, rather despondent piece – the link is here for anyone who would like to read it. It’s been quite a grim start to January, so what follows is from a rain-swept and miserable Paris, caught in the fury, swirl and eddy of Storm Eleanor. Happy New Year.
Henry Miller enjoined the writer to work calmly, joyously and recklessly on whatever is in hand. Jack Kerouac invites him to remove all literary, grammatical and syntactic inhibition and, like Proust, be ‘an old teahead of time’. What a delightful phrase – I so wish that I had thought of it.
So, why this sudden interest in writerly things? Perhaps because in a few days a new book is about to be released on the world which makes something of a mockery of the whole tawdry process. The words do not slip down like a fine Montrachet – instead they scamper insolently past us, daring us to believe them. A tell-all called “Fire and Fury” about Trump’s first year in office is about to shake the foundations of the White House – the revelations come like arrows at Agincourt, thick, fast and deadly. Despite not having yet been published, the book has its own Wikipedia entry. There’s the odour of a septic tank about all of its fragments, half truths and unsubstantiated conjecture, but, like any septic tank, there’s solid material in there. It’ll sell books but let’s all just calm the flap down before actually believing too much of it. The author, Michael Wolff, has acknowledged in the past that he’s not very good at conventional reporting. Instead, he has the reputation of being able to absorb the atmosphere and gossip swirling around him at social gatherings, his bum on a sofa close to the West Wing, from which he can fabricate events as if they actually happened.
His great gift, it has been said is to ‘have the appearance of intimate access’ when the truth is in fact quite the reverse – almost no access at all. He’s an expert, it seems, at manufacturing fictional oaks from factual acorns – real and imagined. He claims, amongst many other colourful notions, that Ivanka wants to be President whereas Donald never really wanted the Presidency. Once he lost, Trump would be both insanely famous and the value of a TV empire he was considering starting would skyrocket. Ivanka and Jared would be international celebrities. Steve Bannon would become the de facto head of the Tea Party movement. Kellyanne Conway would be a cable-news star and Melania Trump, who had been assured by her husband that he wouldn’t become president, could return to inconspicuously lunching with a discreetly luxurious circle of friends. Having been told he had won, she burst into tears, allegedly. Losing would have been so very convenient for everybody. But, a thousand tweets later and lurching through a first annus horribilis for the Donald and only a 40% chance, the punters tell us, of making it through a second keeps the gossip columnists wallowing in their self-excreted effluvia and will sell multiple copies of Michael Wolff’s book.
There should be books written about the Trump presidency and the man himself. But, not now and not yet. There is too much at stake to stoke the furnaces of worldwide ridicule any more than they have already been and the revolving door hiring and firing and murderous infighting simply generates headlines. Of course, it was insane to think you could run a White House without experience, organisational structure or real purpose, led by a man who goes to bed at 6:30pm surrounded by cheeseburgers. The next twelve months are going to be interesting.