Three Questions for Arthur Plotnik
Sara Swinson
4/17/2006 12:01:41 AM

Let’s talk Arthur Plotnik and then let’s talk to Aurthur Plotnik, the author of Spunk & Bite. Let’s also talk grammar, punctuation; rules of usage, principles of composition, expression; style. Let’s talk writing; the nuts and bolts of writing ... as well as the tacks and nails and wrenches and pliers and duct tape of writing; the tools of writing; tools, which writers like yours truly, are in dire need of employing. I don't employ many tools at all, except for the occasional eyelash curler and sometimes a spoon. My father taught me how to use a spoon. He's good with tools. Except for that time when he sawed off his thumb. But they re-attached it. He saved it in a little bag with ice. And now he has a spoon for a thumb.
But back to Arthur Plotnik; this writer, can take something completely unattractive--for instance, a socially-phobic semicolon--and he can beautifully unearth this homely, dot/comma's charm; he can open your eyes to its gorgeous qualities; he is, in fact, punctuation's plastic surgeon; he is grammar's glamour manager. He can cupidiciously cause you to fall in love with an exclamation point; he will have you longing for the neologism. He will have you asking a question mark out on a date. He is the Doctor Ruth of Grammar Rules.
He is the writer's therapist. When we suffer, relationally, with words; we must turn to Arthur Plotnik; Art will counsel us. He is the Freud of the Fundamentals of Usage. He is the Carl Rogers of Composition. He is really, really good. And critics are comparing him to Strunk & White and they are saying things like he is really, really good and that Strunk & White better move over because Spunk & Bite is here and Arthur Plotnik authored it! That's what they're saying. Just thought you'd like to know.
And to think that little ol' me has the opportunity to ask this revered, respected, renowned, really, really good writer three questions of my own choosing and he will answer my questions, I mean, wow. All I can say is, I better come up with three really, really good questions. I didn't but I did devote a lot of time to questing after the three really, really good questions.
And so after devoting six hours of prayer to the matter coupled with the fasting and then tripled with the self-flagellation, I was able to arrive at a series of askable questions.
Just as an aside, please note the following fasting entailments for this project:
Day 1) I was to drink only white tea.
Day 2) I was to drink only green tea.
Day 3) I was to drink only three quarts of distilled, sage infused, rose water, drained off the second hump of a desert monk's camel and then I was to hand-filter 2.5 quarts of it through reeds nourished by the streams flowing out from beyond the mouth of the River, Jordan. I drank that. On the third day of my fast.
What did it taste like, you ask? It tasted like chicken. The camel wasn't harmed in my draining of its hump. Just so you know.
Consequently, I was able to compose three adequate questions to pose of Arthur Plotnik. Here they are:
Sara Swinson: Of all your books, which one is your favorite (of course, you must answer Spunk & Bite here)

Arthur Plotnik: Yes, Spunk & Bite is my fave. It's the outgrowth of long experience and if that sounds like a three-inch nostril hair, it's because I'm thinking of the hair by which it beat out my second favorite. And which, you ask liverishly, is that? Answer: The Reluctant Stud, one of the 22 potboiler paperbacks I wrote pseudonymously to pay for as it turned out---psychoanalysis and a second graduate degree. The vixens of that book had to use all their guiles before Reluctant Stud would bed one of them every 14 pages. (I should note that these were prudish potboilers by today's standards no obscenities, just purple metaphors of pistons and Bessemer furnaces.)

Third favorite, you demand? A photo finish between The Elements of Expression and The Elements of Authorship. The latter, semi-autobiographical---was called Honk If You're a Writer before we learned that "to honk" means "to vomit" in British slang. Why put ideas in anyone's craw? But spewingly, folks: I love Spunk and Bite, because I believe it says something fresh in a jokey way that irritates uptight critics (heh-heh, as my interviewer would say). And Spunky, the dog on the cover, is so cute.

S.S.: Do you have any tips for literary bloggers blogging blindly in the blogosphere?
AP: Yes: Avoid manic alliterations except those put forth by blogger YA ZI in his "Advice on Style for the Literate Blogger," the one you unearthed for your friends. You must heed that thaumaturgic taurus when he tells you to triturate "the psittaceously vacuous, ventriloqially verbose, and vaniloquently vapid." See, yo, the man be sayin', don't be like no parrot and don't be flappin' ya jaw like no dummy. Y'all gotta put some glem in ya blogz drape 'em up an' drip 'em out, doag, no'm'sayin'?

And lastly after Sara Swinson's three days of prayer and after Sara Swinson's drinking of the sage-infused, rose water, drained off the second hump of a desert monk's camel, she asks of Arthur Plotnik her final and most profoundly engaging question thus far ... question #3:

S.S. Arthur Plotnik, if you were to write my epitaph for me, what would you write?

Arthur Plotnik composes Sara Swinson's epitaph, under duress. Just as an aside, Sara is very self-absorbed and morbid; she looks forward to the day when she can publish ... on her tombstone; tomorrow she will request of her mother that she, too, author an epitaph for Sara H. Swinson.

Sara H. Swinson

Requiescat in

Sara, blessed with Jewish mother, long life
and gift of blog,
hath bequeathed to Arthur Plotnik this headstone,
that he might celebrate her virtues and at the same time demonstrate Spunky-Bitey writing techniques.
And so, good, Sara, though we hardly knew ye,
we knew ye to be:

beguilingly unhinged

of terrier-belly-pink complexion


An endearing catastrofista

Xiu-Xiuly devoted to appalling music

A stone-col' playa an' pray-ya when it come to
the Man from Naz--Word iz bond

Read this: Poynteronline A non-spacey interview
Read this, too: interview
Art's MySpace page


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