Saturday, December 17, 2005
Friday, December 16, 2005
Who Lifted What From Whom
Thursday, December 15, 2005
"Close The Book Reviews, Ban The Critics"
"I would be wonderful with a 100-year moratorium on literature talk, if you shut down all literature departments, close the book reviews, ban the critics. The readers should be alone with the books, and if anyone dared to say anything about them, they would be shot or imprisoned right on the spot. Yes, shot. A 100-year moratorium on insufferable literary talk. You should let people fight with the books on their own and rediscover what they are and what they are not. Anything other than this talk. Fairytale talk. As soon as you generalise, you are in a completely different universe than that of literature, and there's no bridge between the two."
Says the author, who's just published a book of art criticism: "It's my attempt, in a way, to cope with today's world. Terrorism is one of our themes that has changed the texture of American life in a noticeable way. And of course it makes you fearful because you think 'well I'm not a terrorist but somebody could be'."
On changing expectations from the novel, he says: "Now people want to believe that this is just what happens, how it feels and how it looks. The fiction writer has less freedom to invent."
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
Lady Chatterley's Chronicler
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Being An Idiot
I left college in 1968, and "Midnight's Children" was published twelve years later. In between, I was essentially floundering about. I worked in advertising two or three days a week in order to have the other four or five to stay home and write. Advertising was very tempting because they were constantly trying to bribe me to do it full-time. When you've had no success as a writer, the bribes start looking good. You start thinking, Who am I kidding? I think I want to be a novelist, but I'm not getting anywhere, and meanwhile here are these people offering me a comfortable living to do something that I actually can do. "Don't be an idiot!" a voice says. The thing that I think was very brave of my younger self was that he decided he would be an idiot. Just persevere. That feels brave to me: deciding that I'm going to damn well be this person that I've set my heart on being.- Salman Rushdie, in Esquire Magazine's 'What I've Learned' section
Packing, Moving, Rereading
During the shift, other unexpected pleasures also came to light, such as the recovery of books which one hadn't seen in ages: a varied lot, ranging from John Osborne's Look Back In Anger to Isabel Fonseca's Bury Me Standing. Which was quite a coincidence, considering one had recently received in the mail a book entitled Rereadings: 17 Writers Revisit Books They Love.
It's edited by Anne Fadiman, author of the charming Ex Libris, and comprises a selection of essays that earlier appeared in The American Scholar, flagship journal of the Phi Beta Kappa Society. It's a book one has been sampling between periods of waiting for carpenters, plumbers and electricians -- indeed, dipping into it is the best way of going through it.
There's Pico Iyer on D.H. Lawrence's The Virgin And The Gypsy; Vijay Seshadri on Whitman's Song of Myself; Allegra Goodman on Austen's Pride And Prejudice; and more. (Including, unusually and delightfully, David Michaelis on the lyrics of Sergeant Pepper.) Each one a personal reminiscence on how time and age affect the experience of reading a favourite text.
In short: a book that one would unhesitatingly recommend to those (like oneself) who're so caught up in keeping up with new releases that rereading seems like an ill-afforded luxury.
Now, if only the electrician would arrive to fix the reading light.