Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Modesty Prevents Me...

From Paul Levine...

THEY SAY I'M THE GREATEST: On Sunday, I served on a panel at the West Hollywood Book Fair. Rather than introduce the panelists, Jerrilyn Farmer, our moderator, asked each of us to say a few words about ourselves. Being the modest type, I'm always uncomfortable doing this. Won't it seem like boasting to mention my Nobel Prize for Literature? And that I would kill for a Nobel Peace Prize?
Luckily, I had just read the new "Mystery Scene" magazine with its cover story about literary wild man James Ellroy. The author of "American Tabloid," "The Cold Six Thousand," and "Blood's a Rover" is not overly burdened with modesty He has also come up with a clever way to compliment himself without being blatantly obnoxious. He quotes someone else, in this case Joyce Carol Oates: "She called me the American Dostoevsky."

I like it. So, here's my introduction:

"'Illegal' is so good I nearly finished it." -- James O. Born

"Levine is to words what McDonald's is to cattle." -- Maury Povich

"What makes you think you're so funny?" -- Sally Levine (Paul's mother).

SOMEONE ELSE WITH NO SHORTAGE OF EGO: Chain-smoking Mike Wallace interviewed Frank Lloyd Wright on network television, September 1, 1957. Here's the intro: "Good evening, what you are about to witness is an unrehearsed, uncensored interview. My name is Mike Wallace, the cigarette is Philip Morris."
It's a great interview. Here's the transcript. Here's the video:
The interview holds my interest because of the battle of two giant egos. At one point, Wright denied he ever said he was the greatest architect of the 20th Century. But then: "I've been accused of saying I was the greatest architect in the world, and if I had said so, I don't think it would be very arrogant."

He could have said: "Other people say I'm the greatest."

Paul Levine


  1. Wow, Jim really gave you a compliment. D'ya think his lips moved when he tried to read Illegal?

    I'm still working on the Maury Povitch one. I suppose it's better than, "I paid $17.95 for this?"

  2. James O. Born10/06/2009 6:01 AM

    I didn't realize 19 pages was "nearly finished". Most of those pages were fine. Except the last 13.

    We know that's not true. All of them were fine.


  3. I seriously doubt Sally said that. I was taught that bragging about yourself was impolite. Unfortunately we all have to sell ourselves whether it be at book events or job interviews. However, I can't imagine using all that hyperbole. I'll just say that Sam at my mother's assisted living facility calls me Agatha Christie. Too bad he's never read my books.

  4. To quote Dirty Harry [though he's not the first to say it...just the first one I heard]:
    "He's a legend in his own mind."

    I think this is also going to be requoted in ANY onjective review of Palin's flying-off-the-shelves-NYTimes bestselers list-though not even IN bookstores yet- GOING ROUGE:An American Life.

    we're the same society that actually bought pet rocks......it's all about the "packaging."


  5. james O. Born10/06/2009 11:09 AM

    I read all of Illegal and found it to be outstanding.

    Are you satisfied now, Paul.


  6. from Jacqueline

    As usual, Paul, you've dished up a brisk dish of witty observations for our reading pleasure - and very funny they are too!

  7. "Literary Advocates Redefine Their World Without Books" Read it at http://alanwking.wordpress.com/2009/10/06/literary-advocates-redefine-their-world-without-books/