Sad news arrived Friday from Elberry, proprietor of The Lumber Room:
“i've deleted my blog. i considered copying some of the less-bad posts to Word but couldn't be bothered. i feel great relief to have got rid of all those damn words. Elberry no longer exists. i shan't blog again.”
I hope this is bravado or a hoax. Wit, intelligence, broad reading and good prose are rare in the blogosphere. Here’s a sample of quintessential Elberry, from an e-mail he sent me on August 12:
“My writing and my life has been an attempt to stay close to the truth note - i am surprised by people who are able to veer from that substance to emptiness, and don't seem to realise their loss - especially writers who suddenly launch into political harangues. i feel it is moral work to try only to speak & write truly - whether in fiction or not - because i think evil very rarely advertises itself, but always attempts to pass itself off as necessity or, more often, as good. If we could only stay true, as much as possible, not just in our words but in our actions, we would be better people. This is just about the only way i see art as moral - i heard the truth note in, for example, Conrad or TS Eliot in my youth, so i knew there was something true, amidst the morass of misused language. i think if we can make our words ring true, others might hear and feel ashamed of hollow, brassy talk. i suppose this is one reason why poets had such a hard time of it in the USSR. Just to write a good poem about a stone would be to show up the official stodge for what it is.”
Among the books Elberry has sent me is a nice early edition of Conrad’s first novel, Almayer’s Folly. This sentence, long a favorite, seems appropriate:
“But a man busy contemplating the wreckage of his past in the dawn of new hopes cannot be hungry whenever his rice is ready.”
ADDENDUM: Well, it wasn't precisely bravado or a hoax, but Elberry is back as Elberry's Ghost.