Prufrock's Page

Friday, January 05, 2007

One Is Still Rubbing One's Eyes In Disbelief

Two books make it to the list of Entertainment Weekly's "20 Big Events of 2007'". (Books! Those pesky things that distract you from movies, TV shows and computer games. Not one but two of them!)

The first is the final volume in the Harry Potter series. Okay, so that's not too surprising. But the second is Philip Roth's next, the last one of the Zuckerman books. (Among the other breathtaking events that the venerable editors of the publication have collated are the comeback albums of Whitney Houston and Britney Spears. What a year it's going to be.)

Thanks For Making Our Day, Kurt

"It's an actuarial fact that male writers are finished by the time they're 40. I'm lucky that all of my books are still in print, because I've said all I have to say."

- Kurt Vonnegut

Hey, What's A Misplaced Letter Between Friends?

First, CNN apologised to Senator Barack Obama for putting his name on a picture of Osama Bin Laden. Now Yahoo News has decided to go one-up: On their photo page, the caption on their photo of Obama reads, "Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida." And they wonder why people prefer reading blogs.

Information courtesy: TPM Cafe, where you can see a screen shot of the gaffe.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Notes On Notes On A Scandal

Zoe Heller on the Hollywood version of her book: "I made up my mind very early that if you sell the rights to someone, you're handing it over to someone to do with it what they will. It's a losing proposition to kind of remain proprietorial...I didn't expect or even want a kind of slavish loyalty to every plot point."

(Link courtesy The Elegant Variation.)

IWE, Ver. 2

A new era of Indian writing in English is here, says this report from Berlin -- represented by authors such as Rana Dasgupta, Altaf Tyrewala and Samit Basu, who "feel at home within the most divergent cultures – and they play with this intercultural network in their literary work as well, [while] ...rooted in India to an astonishing degree, and they write about this sense of connection in new and innovative – and at times surprising - ways."

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Pamuk On Neighbours

"Let's love our neighbour, let's love Greece, Iran, Syria. Let's enter the EU and live in peace. But let's not abandon our own thoughts, our own identity, our own personality just because we're worried about 'what the neighbours would say', just because we should be getting along well with our neighbours....Each one of us should be thinking a little differently; we shouldn't resemble one another; we should take pride in our neighbourly difference, not in our resemblance. Our neighbour shouldn't question our difference. That's the kind of world we yearn for."

- From Orhan Pamuk's opening address at the 18th European Meeting of Cultural Journals.

The Death Of The Bookshop

A machine that electronically stores 2.5 million books that can then be printed and bound in less than seven minutes is to be launched early next year.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Irate At 88

Octogenarian Doris Lessing's new novel has so shocked a female proofreader that she refused to have anything more to do with it. Here's why: Lessing’s novel is the mythological story of women known as the Clefts, who live free from sexual intrigue and men, only bearing female children, until their harmony is shattered by the birth of male offspring, the Squirts. Both names refer to reproductive equipment. "I’ll tell you precisely what she hated," Lessing says unsparingly. "She hated the word ‘cleft’. She said she found it very ugly and demeaning. I don’t see why. She hated it even more than the word ‘squirt’.”

What's Worse Than A Precocious Young Novelist?

Two of them. Here's an interview with British Indian teenage twins Jyoti and Suresh Guptara, who completed the first draft of their fantasy novel Conspiracy of Calaspia at the age of 11. "Six years and nine revisions later, it has grown from a simple children's tale to a multi-layered novel of 180,000 words." (Take that, Vikram Chandra.)

Although it must be confessed that they come across as level-headed. Answering a question on their future writing plans, Jyoti says: "...we do not want to become permanent residents of Calaspia. We plan to come up with other things like non-fantasy set in the present - which is insane enough anyway, isn't it?"

Monday, January 01, 2007

Books '07

The Independent and The Guardian take a look at 2007's bouquet of books, and it seems like it's going to be a good one: in fiction alone, there are forthcoming titles from Hari Kunzru, Norman Mailer, Etgar Keret and Ian McEwan, among many others, as well as, no doubt, the as-yet unknown Next Big Novelist who is, even now, correcting galleys with apprehension and hope.

Bizarrely Inappropriate Metaphor Of 2006

At least two metaphors are in the running for most disgusting trope of the year. The first is from Michael Redhill's novel Consolation, in which he compares Toronto's new City Hall to "a broken ice cream cone with a tumour in the middle."

The second is from the English translation of Gaétan Soucy's novel The Immaculate Conception. A night sky is described as "swollen and glittering, shot with green and blue: the belly of a fly about to lay its eggs."

- From a report in the Toronto Star

When Irish Eyes Aren't Smiling

Roddy Doyle, John Banville and Colm Toibin are taking the easy way out; John McGahern is no more; and there are few new names to note. What's happened to Irish fiction, wonders Mick Heaney.