Prufrock's Page

Friday, August 25, 2006

As Long As Your Boss Isn't Looking Over Your Shoulder

In this profile, William Vollmann is asked if he thought an office job could be good for a writer. His reply: "To the extent that the writer can borrow the means of production, the desk and the paper. Being a writer seems to work well with being at a desk. If you can work in there, the office can be helpful, and also you have the sense of reclaiming a bit of your own life from a miserable, deadening existence."

Like A Rolling Stone

"I'm sitting in a Santa Monica seaside hotel suite, ignoring a tray of sliced pineapple and sugar-dusty cookies, while Bob Dylan sits across from my tape recorder, giving his best to my questions. The man before me is fitful in his chair, not impatient, but keenly alive to the moment, and ready on a dime to make me laugh and to laugh himself. The expressions on Dylan's face, in person, seem to compress and encompass versions of his persona across time, a sixty-five-year-old with a nineteen-year-old cavorting somewhere inside."

- Jonathan Lethem interviews BobDylan for Rolling Stone

And once you're done reading that,check out The Independent's review of Greil Marcus's new book: "The Shape of Things to Come suggests that Dylan's song belongs to a tradition of prophecy that goes far beyond preachers and sermons. Amid the post-11 September flag-waving and patriotism, Marcus has been listening to other voices saying that America has fallen far from its truest self."

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The Hysterical Realism Of Nappy Changing

"Just out of curiosity, how do you write with a literary critic in the house?

It’s perfectly easy for me. I show him stuff, and I want him to be my loving husband and the honest literary critic at the same time. It’s not a problem for me, it’s a problem for him, he has to negotiate that one. I have to say, it does seem an incredible gift in life to spend so much time with somebody who cares so much about the same things I care about.

So you have a household that’s dedicated to literary endeavor.

[Laughs.] Most of the time. Right now, it’s about changing diapers."

- Claire Messud, whose The Emperor's Children has been longlisted for the Booker, on life with husband James Wood.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Tyrewala In Sight

Irene Wanner of the San Francisco Chronicle gives Altaf Tyrewala's No God in Sight a mixed review, after confessing that she didn't understand many parts of it:

"Although a few members from Tyrewala's huge cast affect others briefly here and there -- with a nifty jump back to the beginning at the end (I shouldn't reveal more) -- it's impossible for the writer to develop anyone in much depth. Perhaps his aim was this: a gritty, often unappealing, occasionally captivating whirlwind tour of the cities and people he knows best."

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

In Jest, One Trusts

"I would do everything in my power to stop them."

- Amitav Ghosh, when asked how he would react if his children wanted to be writers.

Ford Returns

Richard Ford's new novel has been announced, and it deals with the continuing saga of Frank Bascombe, the character we first met in 1985's The Sportswriter. Can't wait to read it? The New Yorker has an extract.

Monday, August 21, 2006

An Ode To Premier's

Vis India Uncut, a link to a heartwarming piece by Ramchandra Guha on Premier's bookshop, Bangalore:

"At the risk of sounding snobbish, I should say that Premier’s has the most cultivated tastes of all the bookshops I know in India. It is only here that works of literature and history outnumber (and outsell) books designed to augment your bank balance or cure your soul."

In addition, a friend on a recent visit to the city had sent one a text message extolling the virtues of browsing for second-hand books on Church Street which, he claimed, was the heir to Free School Street, Moore market, Daryaganj and the Fountain pavements.

Take that, Crossword.

'David Mitchell Syndrome'

In his Guardian review, Adam Mars-Jones finds much to like in Vikram Chandra's Sacred Games. But he also finds it too long:

"It is as if Chandra had read Ghostwritten or Cloud Atlas during the composition of Sacred Games and decided he would experiment with organising scraps of material more esoterically, holding them together with nothing but writerly willpower. It would have been no disgrace, even in a novel of such ambition and inclusiveness, to have left a few corners of the cosmos unexplored for the time being."

Without Comment

Salman Rushdie happy with 4th wife

- UPI headline, datelined August 18

Salman Rushdie and Lakshmi headed for splitsville?

- ANI headline, datelined August 19

Update: The Hindustan Times picks up the ANI piece, headlining it: Rushdie, Padma Lakshmi marriage on the rock? (sic). Enough to make one hurl the said rock.

Franzen, The Rare Bird

Time magazine profiles Jonathan Franzen on the occasion of the publication of his memoir, The Discomfort Zone. Along the way, one learns more than one needs to know about the author's bird-watching habits.(Oh, and he still works in a darkened room, with earplugs, noise-canceling headphones and something called pink noise -- like white noise but with more bass.)

On Not Reading Henry James

"I sometimes feel like I’m not allowed to read. It’s such an indulgence—and here I am, a writer! Certain books are easier to fit into New York life. I find it very hard to read Henry James here. There’s something about the multiple clauses, the almost archaeological quality of his observations, that requires really full attention. And when I can’t give it that attention, I find it hard to understand."

- Jennifer Egan, whose second novel, The Keep, has just been published.