Fame. Why do authors seek it? How does one acquire it? What are the consequences of attaining it? Gabriel Zaid examines the methods and motivations, from ancient times to the present day. He shines a critical, yet humorous, light on today’s literary world, whose denizens find it “more interesting to talk about writers than to read them,” and he takes a serious look at the desire for fame and the disillusionment and objectification that can accompany it. Along the way, Zaid pokes fun at literary and scholarly traditions, including the unwritten rules of quoting other authors, the ascendancy of the footnote, and the practice of publishing “foolishly complete works.”
The author can manage his literary name like a brand, with a whole line of products: books published under his name (but not necessarily entirely written by him), with all their subsidiary rights; as well as a line of services . . . There’s no reason that toys, clothes, and many other things should be the sole province of characters like Harry Potter and Mickey Mouse. At the Günter Grass Museum, established with the participation of the writer, Günter Grass t-shirts or Günter Grass tin drums could surely be sold.
Gabriel Zaid’s poetry, essays, and cultural criticism have been widely published throughout the Spanish-speaking world. In 2003, Paul Dry Books published Zaid’s So Many Books, which The New Republic called “genuinely exhilarating.”
Natasha Wimmer is an editor and a translator in New York City. She recently translated The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolano (Farrar, Straus and Giroux Publishers).