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Reading Benchley
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I've been reading Robert Benchley again. I might as well own up to it right off the bat because you can always tell within a few sentences anyway. The moment I read Benchley I start to write like him.

When I say I "write like" I don't mean write as well. I "write like" Benchley in the same sense that my cat might be said to "walk like" me, if she were in the habit of walking on her hind legs, which she is not. Thank goodness. (Or never when I'm looking at any rate.) Technically my cat would be going through the same motions but the the effect would be somewhat different.

Come to think of it, my cat walking would probably provide more entertainment than me walking.

Which is probably as good an argument as any against analogizing.

My cat's name is Sabrina, I should add. (Because she's giving me a look that clearly says, "If you will insist on putting me into that drivel you write, the least you can do is use my proper name, or I might just get up and walk about on my hind legs.")

But to get back to the point -- in spite of Sabrina's interruptions -- I admit to writing like Benchley. It's been said (which is another way of saying I'm too lazy to look it up) that James Thurber confessed that he owed everything to Benchley. Dave Barry recently told an interviewer, "Robert Benchley, I'm a huge fan of his, and he did everything I did before I did it."

I stopped reading Dave Barry years ago. I don't like Dave Barry. Even if he is honest.

Long before Dave Barry appeared on the scene I was quite happily writing away like Robert Benchley without a care in the world and no one uttered a peep. Then Dave Barry came along and started doing his Benchley imitation and suddenly people started to accuse me of copying Dave Barry.

So I stopped writing like Robert Benchley. Except when I read him.

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