Geoff Dyer’s piece in the Times Sunday Book Review about the “perpetual announcement” style of writing is hysterically funny, and also painfully true. I applauded — alone, in front of my laptop — when I finished reading it.
The kind of authorial conceit Dyer is talking about is anathema to my reading sensitivities, and one I often call out when I see it. It reminds me of (ahem) that moment near the end of America’s Next Top Model where Tyra Banks says, repeatedly, to a succession of girls: “The next girl I’m going to call is….Nicole!” Oh dear.
But if we follow this thing down to it’s daily use, I think it’s fair to say we’re all guilty. I, for one, can confess to using all of the following phrases at least once in the past month:
“I just want to say…”
“I’m just saying.”
“I will say this…”
“I should say…”
“I’m gonna say…”
Of course, some of these expressions have non-boneheaded uses, for instance when you’re actually using the future tense in the form of a declarative sentence: “I’m gonna say no when Tyra Banks asks me to be on America’s Next Top Model.”
Unfortunately, I know I’m not alone in frequently using them in the present tense: “I’m gonna say no, I don’t really feel like going to the party,” instead of simply, “No. I don’t feel like going to the party.”
Dyer’s tongue-in-cheek (and also astoundingly good) use of the the very trope he’s dissing makes him a hero in my book. I’m adding him to my fantasy dinner party guest list.