Monday, November 16, 2009

Literary Hypertrophy

As this rare 1926 photo of James Joyce on his way home from the local Zurich gymnasium shows, literary mastery and muscular hypertrophy were once considered inseparable traits.

In his non-fiction work The Green Hills of Africa, Hemingway not only defends his (at the time) controversial decision to join PETA, but states unequivocally that "any writer worth his salt should be able to wrestle a full-grown cape buffalo to the ground and bench at least twice his body weight."

Sadly, gone are the days when fifteen hundred pound bench/squat/deadlift totals were a requirement to win the Nobel.  I mean, just take a look at this Swedish National Archive photo of poet Pablo Neruda pulling 650+ pounds in Stockholm...

These days it seems like every writer is just sitting on their ass or (worse) running marathons.  Sure, Michael Chabon still brings his A-game to the gym...


But what about the Jonathans (i.e., Lethem, Safran Foer, Frazen, Selwood)?

Maybe if we can all stop Twittering on our iPhones and get back to the basics--to the 22-inch biceps of writers like Mark "The Machine" Twain--we can make literature MATTER again.

Hell, look at this recent picture of J.K. Rowling.  It sure worked for her...


  1. This is awesome.

  2. In defense of Jonathans, Jonathan Ames had an American record-breaking snatch at the Pan Am Games, right after, I believe, I Love You More Than You Know was published. And lets not forget that Bukowski embraced sobriety when he found his love of atlas stone lifting, training under Bill Kasmier up until his death.

    Nice piece!


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