Addicted to novelty since 2001

Envy

Back in the day, when we fancied ourselves intellectuals, my brother and I shared a subscription to the excellent literary journal Granta (boy, do they need an RSS feed). It regularly features some of the best essays and short fiction writers on the planet.

This piece, which appeared in a recent issue, is a little hard to qualify, but it’s definitely worth reading. It’s by Kathryn Chetkovich and is called ‘Envy’. It’s neither a fictional story or an essay–we’ll use the awfully generic ‘creative non-fiction’. Regardless, it’s an excellent meditation on jealousy (for another excellent meditation on this topic, check out Martin Amis’s The Information):

Over the next several months, what had at first seemed like a pathologically extreme anticipation of the man’s success on my part began to look like nothing more than a reasonable prediction. Advance copies of his book were released, and suddenly he was being interviewed, photographed, written and talked about by, it seemed, everyone. Clearly his book was on its way to becoming not a book but the book, and every day seemed to bring new evidence that he was on his way to becoming that rare thing, a writer whom people (not just other writers) have heard of.

For my taste, Chetkovich’s writing is a touch precious in places (her ongoing use of “the man” seems an awkward choice), but she achieves a remarkable balance in the piece. In reading it, I vacillated between admiring her honesty and wanting to smack her in the head for her small-mindedness.