A Classic Flame
One of the delightful things about the Internet is reading the occasional well-written flame. Flamage is a specialized subset of writing, with its own requirements; being able to write a good essay or novel is no guarantee that you can write a good flame.
But of course the genre predates the Internet. And one of the all-time classics is Mark Twain’s Fenimore Cooper’s Literary Offenses (also at Project Gutenberg).
Here’s a sample:
The conversations in the Cooper books have a curious sound in our modern ears. To believe that such talk really ever came out of people’s mouths would be to believe that there was a time when time was of no value to a person who thought he had something to say; when it was the custom to spread a two-minute remark out to ten; when a man’s mouth was a rolling-mill, and busied itself all day long in turning four-foot pigs of thought into thirty-foot bars of conversational railroad iron by attenuation; when subjects were seldom faithfully stuck to, but the talk wandered all around and arrived nowhere; when conversations consisted mainly of irrelevancies, with here and there a relevancy, a relevancy with an embarrassed look, as not being able to explain how it got there.
Now go read the whole thing. It’s as enjoyable now as it was a hundred fifteen years ago.
Twain had a way with words. Perhaps fortunately for me, my only acquaintance with J.F.Cooper is having watched episodes of Hawkeye on TV….40+ years ago. And I’ve forgotten absolutely all of them.
The closest I’ve come to reading any J.F. Cooper is watching M*A*S*H, which had a character named Hawkeye. Oh, and I once knew a guy from Cooperstown, NY, which was founded by J.F. Cooper’s father or grandfather.
One of my favorite short ones in recent times was Ezra Klein:
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