The Summing Up, LVI

It’s a four paragraph chapter but not a long one. Maugham opens with a discussion of his short story writing processes. He took years to turn his notes into a story–four years, in fact, so I feel great about not doing anything with that idea I had a couple months ago–and he only spent two or three weeks writing the 12,000 words he found to be the ideal length. Because getting a forty-eight page story published these days would be easy peasy for a new writer. Of course, Maugham wasn’t a new writer; he doesn’t talk about the publication of his stories, just their inevitable publication. Then he goes into a paragraph about Chekhov and how people don’t get him. Not just readers, but the writers aping him. There might be some Hemingway shade here–he refers derisively to “Michigan” writers. Then he closes off, in a rather Maugham way–not quotable but definitely peak Maugham terrain–about how the French are more adept to appreciating his work than the English. He doesn’t say anything against the English, except with his adjectives describing English fiction. It’s a fun chapter; almost useful, almost egomanical, always entertaining.

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