I am not going to stop harping on this point that "celebrity is a mask that eats into the face" (J. Updike) until I am satisfied that it has thoroughly saturated this place.
There's an industry out there, sprung up around writers. To many, writing is not so interesting as being a writer, and when writers go on tour, it reinforces people's belief that it's all a package: you create something (details saved for future memoir), you get out there and network and promote it all the way to success, because success is the American Way.
In my [Ann Beattie's] opinion, writers have been overexposed, caricatured, asked specious questions to elicit amusing answers, their faces printed on coffee mugs. There are too many of us, and M.F.A. programs graduate more every year, causing publishers to suffer snow-blindness, which has resulted in everyone getting lost. There are those who maintain that bookstore chains have made things more difficult for individual writers. We are all inundated with endless appearances from writers who become Mary Poppins every time they publish again: they drop out of the sky to be booked anywhere and everywhere, say sensible things (the opposite is also nice, and will suffice), then disappear.
Think: you could be
Four of the 27 men described their experiences here for the first time since they were nabbed in an early morning attack Jan. 24 at a local school and a district government office that Pentagon officials described as outposts for al Qaeda and Taliban hold-outs. Twenty-one other villagers were killed in the assault and one U.S. soldier was wounded.
The gunfire and shouting outside the building jarred sleeping policemen awake just before 3 a.m. Raufwho had a job similar to his current one before the Taliban took power in his provincerecognized loud American voices. "They are our friends," a relieved Rauf told his frightened men. "Don't run. They won't do anything to us." Several minutes later, Rauf said, he was curled on his side fending off boot kicks to his back and knee jabs into his chest. He screamed in Pashto, "We're friends! We're friends, friends, friends!" Rauf, who places his age somewhere between 60 and 65, heard one of his ribs crack, and then, he said, he blacked out.
Rauf said a U.S. military officer told him during his third and final interrogation session two days before the release: ''We are sorry. We committed a mistake bombing this place." Rauf, huddled under a brown blanket in a corner of his mud-walled house, said he still can barely stand because of the blows to his kidneys. ''I can never forgive them,'' he said.