Prufrock's Page

Friday, March 02, 2007


A 2004 report in The Telegraph spoke of the decrepit state of George Orwell's birthplace in Motihari; this was followed by another by the BBC in 2005, stating that the area would get a makeover which would leave it with a museum, a statue and (surprisingly) a stadium. And now, in today's Hindustan Times, one reads that the crumbling, one-storeyed building has been systematically robbed of bricks and wooden frames by people who have then sold their spoils to local builders. What a shame. (Couldn't find the story online, but you can see it on their epaper: registration required.)

Granta's American Pick

Granta magazine has announced their list of "Best of Young American Novelists: 21 writers under the age of 35". Don't be disheartened if you've never heard of those such as Christopher Coake and Rattawut Lapcharoensap -- the list also includes Jonathan Safran Foer, Yiyun Li, Nicole Krauss and Nell Freudenberger. As well as -- surprise, surprise -- Akhil Sharma

Thursday, March 01, 2007

The Last 'Against The Day' Review One Is Going To Read

In an erudite, readable and reflective review of Pynchon's new novel, James Wood finds the "book's will-to-nullification...deeply frustrating....[it is] a massive novel that never feels spacious, because it so rarely slows down to describe anything properly, never indulges in that rallentando* of respect whereby each note is awarded its imperishable thisness."

If you want to read a book, he goes on, that has "little plot but much internal story, that was morally and aesthetically complex, stylistically difficult and demanding, determined to put language to some kind of challenge, formally lovely and alluring, humanly serious but also humanly comic," you ought to pick up instead The Man Without Qualities, Remembrance of Things Past, The Radetzky March, The Secret Agent, Confessions of Zeno, The Magic Mountain or The Good Soldier Svejk.

*Rallentando: Gradually slackening in tempo.

Black, White And Read All Over

Admit it. You haven't read Remembrance of Things Past. You haven't finished War and Peace. And even Ulysses is a closed book. How on earth are you going to hold your own at the next literary festival? By reading Pierre Bayard's How to Talk About Books You Haven't Read, that's how.

Happy World Book Day

On World Book Day, a UK study reveals that "classics are still the most essential reads". Topping the list: Pride and Prejudice.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Narayan For Everyman (And Vice Versa)

"Without Narayan we might never have fully known what it's like to be human," says Eric Ormsby in his appreciation of Everyman's two-volume collection of the author's works.

The Novel As Contact Sport

Who will emerge as top dog in a transatlantic face-off when Don DeLillo and Ian McEwan each publish a new novel on the very same day?

Playwright On A Hot Tin Roof

Insomnia, hypochondria, post-orgasmic melancholy, incoherence and self-disgust: what you find when you peer into the mind of one of the century's great playwrights.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Another Feather

"It's such a slim volume...and the book haunts me, its simplicity and brutishness, the unflinching look at life. Roth never looks away, never trivialises, never shrugs. He manages to wrestle with grief, the immensity of losing self."

- Judge Debra Magpie Earling, announcing that the PEN/Faulkner award goes to Philip Roth for Everyman.

Sorry, No Chandamama

"Newspapers tell you about the world; magazines tell you about their world," writes Vanity Fair's Graydon Carter in his introduction to a selection of the 51 smartest, prettiest, coolest, funniest, most influential, most necessary, most Important, most essential magazines ever. (#1: Esquire. #2: The New Yorker.)

One Can Relate

"I don't feel like writing," writes "G" to Salon's Cary Tennis. "Am I lazy? Am I afraid of failing? Do I lack the discipline, the artistic urge, the necessity? Am I not a writer after all? Should I give up writing and learn to be happy without it? These questions drive me crazy sometimes."

The answer: "It may be true that you don't feel like writing. You are probably working hard and have many duties as a father. So there will be times that you have to write even though you don't feel like it. In that sense, writing is like your other roles in life as a worker and a father and a husband: It requires you to do things you don't want to do. You do it because that is your role. It's the only way you can get anything done. "

Monday, February 26, 2007

At Last, A Writing Project That One Can Accomplish During Lunch Break

Esquire magazine sent 250 napkins to writers in the United States, and received nearly a hundred stories written on them in return.

Update: In India Uncut's Rave Out, Amitava Kumar confesses he likes the idea, though it "risks giving respectability to a premature ejaculation".

Only Because Of The Prose, No Doubt

The Washington Post reproduces a list of the "Top 10 Most Sought After Out-of-Print Books in 2006". Number one on the chart? Madonna's Sex.

Looking At Bellow

"I looked up and caught the novelist's steady stare taking in the small tableau of us: Madonna and kvetch. His face was turned slightly away so that his gaze came canted, parallel to the rays of the chill sun. There was a slight smile. I didn't for a moment imagine it was moistened with sentimentality."

- Rebecca Newberger Goldstein recalls her encounter with Saul Bellow