Critical acclaim is a notoriously fickle and elusive thing, with neither rhyme nor reason applying as to why the work of one so-called talented writer is lauded and fawned over, whereas the oeuvre of some other, clearly more talented, practitioner of the art is shockingly overlooked or dismissed. How else to explain the fact that Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections (2001) is considered a masterpiece of contemporary fiction, whilst my own self-published Trouser Snake: A Memoir, a harrowing yet hilarious, vertiginous yet sycophantic account of my brief career in the Saskatchewan adult film industry, has been largely ignored by the literary critics? The one review my memoir did receive in a local newspaper (best used for wrapping deep-fried fish) was, shall we say, less than completely enthusiastic, heavily weighted as it was with ambivalent and double-edged phrases such as “moronic piece of crap,” and “tragic waste of paper.”
Nor is my lack of literary recognition the only significant disappointment in my life. If my friends had to pick just one quality of mine that raises me far above the level of my fellow human beings, they would likely cite my humility. If they were asked to choose another, they might mention the fact that I am something of a Renaissance man. With the appalling decline of modern educational standards, there are very few of us around today who can lay claim to the ability to initiate a polymerase chain reaction using only a few simple household appliances in the morning, compose an epic ballad in Middle English in the afternoon, then carve an exact replica of Paris Hilton’s left breast out of a russet potato before bedtime. Incredibly, though, my name remains far from a household word.
However, I am not about to panic at the inexplicable lack of public recognition for my accomplishments. I take solace in the knowledge that a great many other giants in their respective fields (thinkers, like me, far ahead of their times) have gone largely unsung during their own lifetimes. Bob Dylan, Antonio Banderas, Yanni, Pablo Picasso, Bill Gates, Jesus Christ, Einstein and that guy from Da Vinci’s Inquest who wrote about a code or something. All of them went to their graves as completely unheralded paupers. Or, if they didn’t, I bet there were lots of people who did. The whole point is, I’m not panicked just yet. I know that, one day, I will receive just what it is that I so richly deserve.
Franzen, J. (2001). The Corrections. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.