Writers in Love
The Gentleman Scholar on what authors ought to look for in a woman, and vice versa.
Photo by Christina Paige
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Just gotta throw it out there that I'd enjoy the column much more if it weren't so wordy and trying to be funny. I'd change the voice a bit.
Sincerely: Thanks for reading, Josh!
Somewhat less sincerely: Thanks for your input!
Extremely sincerely: For $2 a word, the Gentleman Scholar will address any question of your choosing in the voice of any male English-language prose writer out there—Raymond Chandler, Ronald Firbank, Donald Barthelme, you name it, DM me.
Wonderingly: Is it not right to write about manners and fashion in a mannered fashion?
Anecdotally: When the Gentleman Scholar was but a lad, he once sat at the knee of a wise old newspaper columnist who said, “Style is you finding out who you are and what you’re about.”
Martin-Amisly: "Style is not neutral; it gives moral directions." What is more, I subscribe to the Amis idea that style—contrary to common belief (and I do mean common)—is not something analogous to gift wrap. Style is the gift itself.
Further: Chicks dig it:
Dearest Gentleman Scholar,
I have enjoyed reading your Slate columns about sartorial concerns, manners, and even conundrums of an ethical nature (should that DB leave his hot wife?). I'm writing because in your columns I hear the ghost voice of a much beloved ex-boyfriend—someone who could be your literary doppelgänger.
This particular ex left me to attend grad school. He loved me, but not as much as he loved the freedom to bed the co-eds he was about to meet. Having in the past pulled the dumping-before-matriculation maneuver, I understood.
AND YET. It's been over six months, I’m still not over him, and your columns have only added fuel to the flame, reminding me of how much of a sucker I am for writers. What do writers want in a woman? How do I find and keep one? Do you know any single ones?
Thank you for your kind note and your excellent question, Bianca. I’m sorry to hear of your dumping. The best writer I’ve heard deliver a quality blessing in the matter of break-ups is Michael Lewis. Years ago, interviewing him, I asked a couple nosy questions about his first couple marriages, and he wound up that thread of the conversation by saying, “May you never have romantic trauma.”
I should mention that Lewis has written for Slate about raising a family with his third wife, Tabitha Soren. What do writers want in a woman? On-air experience at MTV doesn’t necessarily hurt. Other famous methods of attracting or maintaining an author’s attention include appearing on the cover of the New York Times Magazine, asking Langston Hughes to set you up with someone nice, giving him a lot of leeway to do in-depth reporting on his bestselling chronicle of the sexual revolution, emerging as a stand-out flapper, and unwittingly encouraging in him the delusion that you are Anne Frank.
Troy Patterson is Slate's television critic.