Prufrock's Page

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Oh, Dear

"The first book took four years to write, the next eight, so I guess the third will take 16. Then it will soon be time to retire."

- Kiran Desai, quoted in a Comment is Free profile.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Ditch The Blogs...

...and turn to real life, writes Damion LeeNatalia, an Arizona U student, going on to quote Martin Amis: "We live in an age of mass loquacity. We are all writing it or at any rate talking it: the memoir, the apologia, the c.v., the cri de coeur. We are surrounded by special cases, by special pleadings, in an atmosphere of universal celebrity." All such articles that pick up on that "mass loquacity" quote, however, fail to point out the self-deprecating irony: Amis wrote those lines in the foreword to his own memoir, Experience.


Think your dictionary's adequate? Give it the Pavlova test.

'The Silent Work Of Uneventful Days'

Martin Amis' The Age of Horrorism was much debated. Here he is in conversation with The Times' Ginny Dougary:

"You find that some things have not been written about by you and gone down to the subconscious level, and they bel­ong to fiction. It’s a silent anxiety… an anxiety that you don’t articulate. That’s where your fiction comes from. Sometimes it’s stuff that you don’t even know is bothering you. You think life is going on and nothing much is happening but there is… Saul Bellow has a nice sentence for it… ‘The silent work of unev­ent­ful days’, when great changes are happening inside you but it just seems like ordinary life.”

"The silent work of uneventful days": what a wonderful description.

Perhaps One Ought To Have Asked Him What It's Not About

On one side of the Atlantic, he's an elegant writer of spy thrillers. On the other side, he's a serious practioner of literary fiction. John le Carre on his new novel, The Mission Song:

"...the novel isn't really set in Congo at all--or so I had almost persuaded myself by the time I began my journey. It's a romantic satire, for heaven's sake, written with both feet firmly off the ground. It's about Tony Blair's England, and good old-fashioned colonial exploitation, and political hypocrisy and shameless public lies, and other scores I had to settle. It's about the quest for identity in our multiethnic society, and New Labour's assault on our civil liberties, and a bunch of other similarly lofty themes. Congo is just backcloth, an abstraction, a symbol of perpetual colonial exploitation, slaughter, famine and disorder. To meet it face to face would only violate the delicate illusion!--or so I had tried to believe."

Rushdie's Call For A Ban

"In my opinion, the word 'spiritual' ought to be put on an index and banned from being used for, say, 50 years. The things that are put about as being 'spiritual' -- it's unbelievable. It even goes as far as a spiritual lap dog and a spiritual shampoo."

- Salman Rushdie speaks to The Jewish Journal

Maybe They'll Just Give It To Banville Again

Surprise, surprise. No David Mitchell on the shortlist. Commenting on the diversity, chairwoman Hermoine Lee says: "There are four women and two men. They include an Indian writer (Desai) who has lived in America and England, an Australian (Grenville), an Irishwoman (Hyland) and a Libyan-born Egyptian (Matar) now living in England." The money, though, is on Waters.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

When Sontag Was Unsure

"Why is writing important? Mainly, out of egotism, I suppose. Because I want to be that persona, a writer, and not because there is something I must say. Yet why not that too? With a little ego-building - such as the fait accompli this journal provides - I shall win through to the confidence that I (I) have something to say, that should be said."

- From Susan Sontag's 1958 Paris journal, a fascinating look at her internal struggle to find "something to say".

Monday, September 11, 2006

Herzog At Night

"As I lie in bed at night, letting my thoughts creep into the dimly lit places in my mind, I understand the realization Herzog reaches: that we may either torment ourselves with our own weaknesses or we may embrace them, realizing that perhaps there is not one truth that rules over all of life, but a more intimate truth that we construct from our own understanding."

- Heather Hepler re-reads Saul Bellow's Herzog and finds it as arresting as ever.

Cartoon Remnick

" 'Everybody has a cartoon of themselves,' suggests David Remnick, the editor of a magazine famous for them. 'Mine is: I write very fast, and I'm ruthlessly efficient with my time.' "

- The Guardian interviews the man who's taking The New Yorker from strength to strength.