Prufrock's Page

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Pandora's Box

My earlier post on Mahmud Farooqui's review of The Black Hole was written because I genuinely felt he'd been "inspired" by other reviews. After his clarification, which I reproduced in the comments section of the post, I realise that -- one paragraph apart -- he clearly isn't to be dismissed as a mere plagiarist. However, a couple of comments on the post -- and especially on the Outlook website -- that seem to be motivated by sheer spite and malice are dismaying, to say the very least. I considered deleting them, or blocking/moderating comments, but that didn't seem to be the right thing to do. For the moment, then, I'm simply going to stay away from this blog. Call it ostrich-like behaviour if you like; I just need time to recuperate.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


Still falls the Rain---
Dark as the world of man, black as our loss---
Blind as the nineteen hundred and forty nails
Upon the Cross

- From Edith Sitwell's 'Still Falls The Rain'

The rain and the wind, the wind and the rain --
They are with us like a disease:
They worry the heart, they work the brain,
As they shoulder and clutch at the shrieking pane,
And savage the helpless trees.

- From William Henley's 'The Rain And The Wind'

Are you awake? Do you hear the rain?
How rushingly it strikes upon the ground,
And on the roof, and the wet window-pane
Sometimes I think it is a comfortable sound,
Making us feel how safe and snug we are:
Closing us off in this dark, away from the dark outside.
The rest of the world seems dim tonight, mysterious and far.
Oh, there is no world left
Only darkness, darkness stretching wide
And full of the blind rain’s immeasurable fall!

- From Helen Hoyt's 'Rain At Night'

Monday, July 03, 2006

The Tangled Ms Winterson

"Only if I sustained a severe injury to the head," replied Martin Amis, when asked in 2000 whether he'd ever write a book for children. Well, Jeanette Winterson clearly had no such scruples, for she's just come out with her book for younger readers, enticingly entitled Tanglewreck. Writing in Scotland on Sunday, Stuart Kelly expresses contempt:

"What makes this novel so dishonourable is its sheer cynicism. Disregarding the fuzziness about readership, the shakiness of the science, a few off-colour jokes and the lacklustre prose, there is a surreptitious marketing agenda at work here."

In The Observer, however, Geraldine Bedell is more gracious:

"Writing for children seems to have lent warmth to Winterson's voice and the novel is leavened with a kind of loving, godmotherly assurance that makes it not merely impressive but enormously likable, and fun."

Where Are Our Hemingways, Our Faulkners?

Who are today's leading young novelists, asks Lev Grossman in the venerable Time magazine. After rounding up the usual suspects -- from Safran Foer to Lethem to Franzen to Foster Wallace, with a tip of the hat to those across the Atlantic such as David Mitchell -- he concludes that today's novel is shorter, funnier and more tightly plotted. And yet:

"...there's still no writer under 40 who makes you want to stand up in a crowded theater and shout, That right there is the voice of this generation, that is the yearning and the rage of the contemporary...Every once in a while a novel comes along that makes everything else feel dated, that feels as current as tomorrow's e-mail, that gives readers the story of their own secret ineffable desperation with such immediacy that it induces spontaneous mass recognition as the Voice. Every once in a while--but not lately."

On reflection, it looks like it's the same old 'Great American Novel' debate in a different guise.

And here's an instruction manual on how to write it: make sure to include migration, individualism, optimism, religion, informality and expansiveness.

R.K. Narayan Saved By Blog

A spirited campaign by a blog site has forced Karnataka governor T.N. Chaturvedi to intercede on behalf of hundreds of bloggers to seek recognition for celebrated author R.K. Narayan on his birth centenary this year.