You Got Style
· Pointed Takes on Style Delineated ·
March 22, 2005
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· The Pen Commandments and "I've Got a Crush on You" ·
Well, with such a pointedly elliptical recommendation, how could Styles resist: I mean, with so punny a take on a truly biblical theme, Frank's The Pen Commandments seemed even naturally to commend itself to me. And no wonder; its injunctions are wonderfully witty:
It wasn't long, though, before I found myself succumbing to the sad temptation of envying Steven Frank his own style. "Was it a good or a bad sign," I wondered, "right or wrong?" Then suddenly I remembered what Terry Teachout had remarked in his own take on such envy through that old Gershwin standard, "I've Got A Crush on You." You can see as much in A Terry Teachout Reader (2004), where he says this of his long fling with the famed artist-critic Fairfield Porter:
You can see that I've found in Steven Frank a somewhat less-good teacher than Teachout himself. That's why I thought to end on TT's rather more gracious explanation of style envy:
Nice to see you've returned home safely, Styles, luggage a bit heftier with free books. It's always good to get them from willing publishers.
Your reflection on style envy reminds me of my Victorian Prose course as an undergraduate. We were required to write imitations of several of the authors we read. I was always awed by John Henry Newman. When I wrote my imitation of Newman in April, 1959, I chose as my subject John F. Kennedy. And I concluded my short piece with this line: "John Kennedy is the right man in the right place, and that place is the White House." Style envy as prophecy?
Gentlemen, all. Let's not mistake envy for admiration.
Yeah, but there are more puns to be had with pens' envy than admiration.
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