Douglas Arvidson is a past winner of the WICE/Paris Transcontinental International Short Story competition. His short fiction has been published in Paris, Prague, and in literary magazines in the United States and he was recently invited to be a staff writer for the Prague Revue, a cutting-edge, online literary journal ( The novels in his fantasy series, The Eye of the Eye of Stallion, include The Face in Amber, The Mirrors of Castaway Time, and A Drop of Wizard's Blood. His new novel, Brothers of the Fire Star, was selected as a finalist in the ForeWord Reviews 2012 Book of the Year national awards and as a finalist in three categories in the 2013 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards: Action Adventure Fiction, Historical Fiction, and Young Adult Fiction. It has become part of the pantheon of Pacific literature and is now included in school literature programs. Brothers of the Fire Star is an adventure story set in the Pacific during World War II and concerns two boys of different races and cultures who escape the island of Guam in a small sailboat when the Japanese army invades. They must then struggle to survive as they master the secrets of the ancient Pacific navigators. Appropriate for young adults as well as adult readers, Brothers of the Fire Star is available on Barnes & Noble, ( and Visit the author's website:

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Death-Time Test of Fame: Hollywood vrs. Literature

Man toils, and strives, and wastes his little life to claim--

At last the transient glory of a splendid name,
And have, perchance, in marble mockery a bust,
Poised on a pedestal, above his sleeping dust.
                                               Andrew Downing

Fame or infamy, either one is preferable to being forgotten.

                                                Christopher Paolini

Lying in a featherbed will bring you no fame, nor staying beneath the quilt, and he who uses up his life without achieving fame leaves no more vestige of himself on Earth than smoke in the air or foam upon the water.

                                           DANTE ALIGHIERI, The Divine Comedy


Like untold millions of us around this fat, round world, I watched the Oscars last night. Or I tried to. I got as far at the very first award, the Best Supporting Actor won by that Austrian guy who playing the Jew-hunting Nazi in Inglorius Basterds to such fine effect.  Speaking of pathos, he was pretty amazing in the part. He got us all riled up, got us thinking that that stuff really happens and how can humans do that to other humans? Where do such monsters come from? In fact, there really are monsters like him now--lots of them. Got us thinking that he's a lesson lost in the learning.
But that was as far as I got before my brain fuzzed out on the hour of pre-Oscar razzle dazzle. All the stars in all their sartorial extravagance being vetted and critiqued by all the fame pundits got to me and I went to bed before whats-her-name became the first woman to receive an Oscar for directing. All that fame failed to keep my interest piqued and my eyelids open.
Writerly fame grows from different soil than movie star fame. It is possible to win an Oscar and not be a brilliant actor. It can happen if you have a brilliant director and a brilliant script. But you'll never find a brilliant book written by a non-brilliant writer. By definition, it simply can't happen.
Death will sort it all out, I suppose. I would like to be around to see if Hollywood fame stands the death-time test as well as literary fame has. Will, 500 years from now, Meryl Streep be up there with Shakespear? Can any move star be as formidable and as eternal a force as a great writer? I speculate that the answer to that is this: There is something profound and profoundly permanant about great writing. So far, in its short history, nothing comparable has emerged from the lively art of movie making.

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