Prufrock's Page

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Time To Dig Out That Copy Of The Satanic Verses

The American Library Association's Banned Books Week has begun.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Rushdie On Indian Women

“One of the things I’ve always thought about my experience of women in the Indian subcontinent, they are very often the more flamboyant of the sexes. That you get these—and I don’t just mean glamorous—but you get these very big characters, very big personalities, often, in Indian women, quite unlike the stereotype of the passive, recessive Indian wife. Or daughter. And my experience is that they’re much the more theatrical and operatic gender. And the men do tend to be more low-key very often, so I think that in my books, just because that’s been a feeling I’ve had, in my books the women often do seem to wear brighter plumage than the men. I don’t know: it would be rash to state that that’s what the country’s really like. Because when you’ve got a country as big as that [India], it’s really like anything you feel like saying it is.”

“People who like my books...tend to praise the female characters. The people who don’t like my books say I can’t write about women. And you know, I give up, really. My view is I’m doing my best. If people can come along for the ride, I’m very happy. If they can’t, what can I do?”

- From an interview in Georgia Straight

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Baker Tony's Pizza

Baker Tony baked a pizza
very round and thin
He said he added olives
but he never put them in
The stuff that he had grated
and sprinkled on to please
was only yellow sawdust
although he called it cheese
The rich tomato topping
was nothing more than dye
so Baker Tony's pizza
made all the children cry

That's Ms Angela Martin's winning entry in the Time for a New Rhyme contest run by the children's digital television channel, Nick Jr.

And if you haven't caught the allusions yet, "Tony" is the British PM, and the rhyme is "an earnest ditty intended to educate youngsters on the government's decision to take Britain to war in Iraq."

There's no reaction yet from Mr Blair. Or from Little Miss Muffet.

Amis Fils Returns To London Fields

This year's Booker longlist contained many of the names that featured in Granta's first best of young British novelists issue in 1983 -- from Rushdie to McEwan to Barnes to Ishiguro. With one notable exception: the man who, at the time, was considered the most stylistically accomplished of the lot. So if you've been wondering what Martin Amis has been up to after 2003's execrable Yellow Dog, here's the answer: he's been writing the film version of his 1989 novel, London Fields. The director? None other than David Cronenberg: "It’s a dark tale about, among many other things, a girl awaiting her own grisly, inevitable murder. For Cronenberg, it sounds like a perfect fit."

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

This, We'd Like To See

British director Michael Winterbottom has just made a film about a film about a novel without a plot.

In other words, he's adapted Laurence Sterne's Tristram Shandy for the screen.

For those who're aware of that novel's form-defying, loopy, elliptical and experimental nature, this might be seen as impossible. But Winterbottom says: "(It) has a deliberate lack of shape or form; it has no coherence and it's full of diversions. But underneath all that, it's really just a daft but heart-warming story about a bunch of people living in a house and behaving idiotically in their own way."

Heavens, that makes it sound like Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Dangerous Liaisons

“…when Sartre couldn’t get Olga to sleep with him, he seduced her sister…In 1945, Sartre went, alone, to the United States, where he met and began an affair with Dolores Vanetti, a Frenchwoman who...was married to an American doctor…In 1947, Beauvoir went, alone, to the United States, where she met and began an affair with Nelson Algren. … In 1952, when she was forty-four, Beauvoir began her affair with Lanzmann, who was twenty-seven. In 1953, Sartre began an affair with Lanzmann’s sister, Evelyne. She was twenty-three.”

That's Louis Menand, writing about the charming home life of Existentialism's First Family.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Just A Sausage Machine

David Robinson offers an appreciation of the woman mystery writer whose paperbacks we've all picked up at A.H. Wheeler stalls -- and elsewhere -- and read and re-read simply because of the twists of her plot, and the fact that it was always the most implausible character who turned out to have done it:

"According to best-selling Russian detective novelist Boris Akunin, the real divide in crime fiction is between Conan Doyle and Christie. Doyle is about character; Christie about plot. And for all the intricate machinations of a Christie plot, the elegance and cunning with which she can turn our suspicions inside out, our tastes in the crime novel have raced off back to Conan Doyle. We want real, flawed human beings at a crime scene - a Philip Marlowe, an Inspector Rebus - not just a perfectly calculating mind and (in Colin Waters's memorable phrase) snobbery with violence.

"But the case for Agatha Christie is far from over, and it doesn't just hinge on the sales statistics, although these couldn't be more impressive...Christie made no great claims for herself as a writer. 'I'm just a sausage machine,' she said, and it's true: her prose was always serviceable rather than stylish.

" 'When I began writing detective stories I was not in any mood to think seriously about crime,' she wrote. 'The detective story was the story of the chase; it was very much a story with a moral, in fact it was the old Everyman morality tale: the hunting down of Evil and the triumph of Good. At that time [of the 1914 war] the doer of evil was not a hero: the enemy was wicked, the hero was good; it was as crude and simple as that. We had not then begun to wallow in psychology.' "