Novelist says what she thinks of media chiefs
Erica Jong, author of the best-selling 1973 novel Fear of Flying (and many books since), has often courted controversy by saying in public just what she thinks.
Now 70, she is still happy to speak out, as a US-based website called The Slant – slogan: there’s always more to the story – discovered.
Here’s Jong on the refusal of Arianna Huffington to pay writers for contributing to her blog sites:
“The idea that everybody’s writing for free is hurting writing as a profession. I wrote many articles for Arianna when she was establishing her aggregator blog and attracting all those eyeballs.
When she got $300m from the AOL acquisition, I said, ‘OK, Arianna, we all helped you get there so now you’re going to pay writers.’ She said, ‘No, I pay my editors.’ I’ve known Arianna for years…
I knew her when she was anti-feminist. I knew her when she was right wing. I knew her when she turned left wing. We promoted our first books together in the UK a million years ago… I admire her energy. She can be very interesting and she’s very clever.
But ‘there is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women,’ as Madeleine Albright once said. Artists who turncoat and exploit other artists — I have no words.
Arianna ditched the writers soon enough. That hurts… Now authors are blogging everywhere for free, and it’s not a good development. They are starving.
I care about artists — the oxygen of society. Suppress them and you asphyxiate discussion and change. Arianna was a writer once… She forgot her origins… We need to be paid! We cannot barter poems for food.”
Jong is a fan of Tina Brown, who runs the Daily Beast, but that doesn’t inhibit her from being critical too:
“When Tina was editor [at The New Yorker] she made all the stories shorter. As an editor, it seems she gets nervous and makes an article shorter and shorter and shorter because I suspect she’s afraid that people don’t have the attention span they used to have.
But I understand that different things should be of different lengths. And Tina is a good editor in this regard: she knows immediately which writer to put with which story.
She once sent me to interview Jane Campion, the film director. Very smart. Tina’s brilliant at a lot of things. And a good writer.
The Daily Beast’s ‘Women in the world’ is a terrific idea. A lot of things she does are necessary. I wrote for her at Talk. I still write for her though the contracts they send you make you weep for writers.”
On the New York Post (prop: Rupert Murdoch) and its coverage of the Trayvon Martin killing:
“I’m always on the verge of cancelling my subscription to the Post because it’s so disgusting. But I like to read Page Six like everybody else (although I know fewer and fewer of the people on it).
In March, a cover-line on the Post read ‘Trayvon hoodwink: tragedy highjacked by “race hustlers”.’ Murdoch tries to smear Trayvon, this sweet-faced kid who was eating Skittles?
It’s unconscionable, and not responsible. You know, the six white men who still can read are going to keep buying the Post, but it’s disgusting how unmeasured it is.”
Jong’s latest book, Sugar in my bowl, is just out in paperback. But I can’t possibly publish her comment on that.