Prufrock's Page

Friday, January 12, 2007

Time To Bring Some Of The Eccentricity Back

In Emdashes' latest instalment of "Ask the librarians" (at the New Yorker), one came across this delicious piece of information:

"Q. Is it true that at some point in the seventies, Goings On About Town used the listings for The Fantasticks to serialize James Joyce’s Ulysses?

Jon writes: Yes. The New Yorker began serializing Ulysses in the November 3, 1968 listing for The Fantasticks, which famously ran for 17,162 performances, or nearly 42 years. That issue quoted the copyright information from the third printing of the novel (London, Egoist Press). The book’s opening words—“Stately plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed”—appeared in the Dec. 21, 1968, issue. The serialization lasted almost three years, ending in November of 1971, and encompassed the entirety of the book’s first chapter. By the end, Ulysses had spread to the listings for other long-running musicals such as Hello, Dolly!, and Fiddler on the Roof. "

Jane Austen? Monica Ali? Irvine Welsh? Don't Bother

They've written some of the books you shouldn't read, says "an anonymous publishing insider".

Feud For Thought

Dismayed by the news that Vargas Llosa and Marquez have buried the hatchet, The Times' Ben McIntyre muses on why the art of the feud seems to be dying out: "Writers once exhibited their sworn enemies with as much pride as any literary award....The best feuds are nurtured over a lifetime, delivered in the form of steel barbs, sharpened with malice aforethought. Revenge should be served not only cold, but with the most elaborate garnish."

More on feuds here, here and here.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Two To Look Forward To

Two forthcoming titles that seem to have been missed by many of the '2007 books' pieces, and that are cause for joy: the first, Don deLillo's Falling Man, which, with luck, will prove to be a return to form; and the second, Nathan Englander's long-awaited first novel, The Ministry of Special Causes. Expectations are high.

Newspapers. Remember Them?

"A man at a laptop is a man at a desk, a stiff, a drone. Where is the nobility here? He hunches forward, his eyes glaze, and beads of saliva glitter in the corners of his mouth and make their way down his chin as he becomes engrossed in the video of the fisherman falling out of the boat. A newspaper reader, by comparison, is a swordsman, a wrangler, a private eye. Holding a newspaper frees you up to express yourself, sort of like holding a sax did for Coltrane."

- Garrison Keillor offers seven rules for reading the newspaper.

American Great

"I would put him in the company of Hemingway and Faulkner. Roth is a very forceful personality and writer. He shows intimacy, candor and transgression. His writing packs a powerful punch."

- Thomas Schaub, University of Wisconsin-Madison professor of English, speaks about Philip Roth

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Another Feud Ends

A new edition of García Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude, to mark the 40th anniversary of its publication, is to include a prologue by Mario Vargas Llosa. What's significant about this, according to this piece, is that "the two have not spoken since they came to blows in a Mexican cinema in 1976....Both writers have remained silent about the reasons for their brawl, except to say it was about something personal."

(Courtesy The Literary Saloon.)

Media Terms You Need To Know In 2007

All about viral vidiots, deathly hollows, idle idols and Google wallets.

Oh, and the Word of the Year, according to the American Dialect Society, is plutoed: "to demote or devalue someone or something, as happened to the former planet Pluto when the General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union decided Pluto no longer met its definition of a planet."

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Novelists' Luck

"I always say the same thing: Talk yourself out of it if you can, which is the same advice I would give somebody if they're about to get married. Because, if you can't talk yourself out of it, you're on your way to a vocation, I think....I would not really like to encourage people along a line of endeavor which will finally not reward them. And, much more importantly, not reward other people. Because once you've found you can do this -- which is to say you can write to the end of a novel; you can write a novel that someone can read -- then all of your attention finally turns outward to those people who will be reading it to the point of 'What can I do for you?' What can I make that you will find useful?' And that's very unlikely to happen to anybody. It has nothing to do with talent, it has nothing to do with genius. It maybe doesn't have anything to do with perseverance. It has largely to do with luck."

- Richard Ford, (Link courtesy TEV.)

Not Going Gentle Into That Good Night

The 83-year-old Norman Mailer's new novel is about Hitler, and it comes out later this month. One wonders how he'll treat that character in his novel, considering that in real life he's stabbed his wife, sat on Truman Capote, head-butted Gore Vidal and referred to Michiko Kakutani as "a one-woman kamikaze". Here's his All-Time Enemies List.

(By the way, he's also a contributing blogger at The Huffington Post.)

Vargas Girl

She used to be a "medieval archeo-zoologist". Her nickname's "Fred Vargas". She can "write the whole book in three weeks". And she feels that calling herself a writer would be "too pretentious". Meet the fascinating Frédérique Audouin-Rouzeau, France's best-selling detective novelist.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Want To Write A Book?

Start talking, says Richard Powers.

Nothing Old Under The Sun

The reason that novelists such as Mailer, Updike, Pynchon, McCarthy and Roth are still read and discussed in the United States? Their connection to the past, says John Freeman, president of the National Book Critics Circle.

Trusting Tale And Teller

" 'I read your poem,' said a friend some years ago, pausing before adding solicitously: 'Are you all right?' "

- James Fenton on how much of yourself to put into your work

Inspired Stories

"I don't know when the imperative that stories be totally original became as insistent as it currently is, but I do know that the sense that stories take from, build on, and are inspired by each other, seems to have disappeared."

- Author Sophie Cunningham's take on authors being influenced.