Prufrock's Page

Friday, March 09, 2007

Another Extreme Form Of Criticism

Jeanette Winterson's new novel, The Stone Gods, is due to be published in September. But a commuter found the 134-page manuscript lying on a bench in Balham station the other night, according to this report. Simon Prosser, publishing director of Penguin, said it was accidentally left by someone who works for the publishing house: "If someone is reading a manuscript on the Tube home or the bus as they often do, then it is very possible that you might leave it." Ah, perhaps that would also explain the case of Larkin's missing manuscript.

Curiouser And Curiouser

It's a fantastic tale with twists, turns and absurdities. The title? Alice in Wonderland in Russia. (Guest-starring a poor translation carried out by a young Vladimir Nabokov.)

The Inheritance Of Awards

Kiran Desai's novel now wins the NBCC fiction award -- edging out books by Richard Ford, Dave Eggers and Cormac McCarthy.

The New New Yorker

Anyone noticed the spanking new New Yorker website? Nice. And they even have poetry online now. Excellent.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Baudrillard Disappears

The man who once said "Dying is pointless: you have to know how to disappear" departed yesterday at 77. His contemporary claim to fame, of course, came during the first Gulf war when he asserted that it did not take place -- that it was a simulacrum of the media. Which must have endeared him to Bush the First.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


"You constantly have to justify your existence," says Oscar Villalon, who edits the book section at the San Francisco Chronicle. "Why? We don't bring in ads."

'Read What Gives You Pleasure, Write What You Must'

"I usually steal a line from Yeats and it goes, 'Read what gives you pleasure, write what you must.' I think that’s pretty good advice. Read, read, read, and then explore your obsessions because I think that’s where the energy comes from. Especially when you want to do a novel because to sustain yourself through a longish project you really have to be, not just committed, but you have to be really interested in it. There’s nothing worse than starting something and then getting bored with it when you’re halfway through. "

- Vikram Chandra advises fledgling writers, in a long, unpretentious interview with Tony DuShane at Bookslut.

(Beryl Bainbridge, meanwhile, reprises the old 'write what you know' principle: "I don't think you should ever try to make things up. We all lead such strange lives that there is no need to. Use your own experiences and then twist it a bit.")

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Time Flies

"[Time] magazine started by Henry Luce and Briton Hadden in 1923 to condense a week’s worth of newspapers into a one-stop digest has been declared headed for the proverbial dustbin for at least twenty years, ever since the advent of cable news. But today, with the fundamental business model of publishing under assault as never before, even Time Inc. acknowledges that Time is at an 'inflection point'—a corporate euphemism for the witching hour."

- Joe Hagan asks whether the magazine will ever return to its glory days.

New Yorker Stories

"The myth and the reality is that we are sent hundreds and hundreds of manuscripts, especially fiction and poetry, every week and we read them. Now, the top fiction editor is not reading everything that's sent from every corner of the country, but certainly we have readers who do and then pass it up the line. That's worth pursuing. We want to try to encourage one of the aspects of the magazine, which is the discovery of talent. Sixty or 70 years ago, a fiction editor named Katharine White discovered John Cheever. It happens. It doesn't happen every week. It maybe doesn't happen even every year. A discovery of a writer such as John Cheever may happen once in a lifetime."

- The New Yorker editor David Remnick speaks to The Independent.

The Tale Of 1,001 Books

Jessica Allen has read 1,000 books since the start of her senior year in high school. She looks back on the verge of her 1,001st.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Harold Bloom's Encouraging Words

" The Alice books by Lewis Carroll are the finest literary fantasies ever written. They will last forever, and the Harry Potter books are going to wind up in the rubbish bin. The first six volumes have sold, I am told, 350 million copies. I know of no larger indictment of the world's descent into subliteracy."

- Harold Bloom to Newsweek. When asked for the name of "an important book that you admit you haven't read", the man replied: "I cannot think of a major work I have not ingested."