Prufrock's Page

Friday, April 13, 2007

Novelists Creating Novelists

Be it Christie or King, Updike or Roth, they've all created fictional doppelgangers. Why? "Most writers have had a literary equivalent of the actors’ experience of self-division: the sense that their writing comes from someone or something separate. It’s perhaps significant that many of the writers mentioned here are torrentially productive and also publish under pseudonyms. An author’s fictional portrayals of authors often draw on this hidden twin..."

Join The Frey

Want to write non-fiction with great doses of exaggeration and embellishment, yet not end up like James Frey? Simple. Become a humourist -- just ask David Sedaris.

Nabokov, Lenin, Frampton

A report on the 10th anniversary of the founding of the Nabokov Museum in St Petersburg contains this amusing piece of information:

"[Nabokov] was born in the Bolshaya Morskaya house on April 10, 1899, according to the Julian calendar in use in Russia at the time. But the Gregorian calendar in use after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 means that the birthday is celebrated on April 22.

"However, this coincides with Vladimir Lenin’s birthday, and since the writer hated Bolshevik tyranny and believed in the magic of numbers, Nabokov supposedly preferred to mark his birthday on April 23, William Shakespeare’s birthday. "

One understands. After all, Peter Frampton was born on April 22, too.

Another Longlist

The judges’ list of contenders for the second Man Booker International Prize: Chinua Achebe of Nigeria, Margaret Atwood of Canada, John Banville of Ireland, Peter Carey of Australia, Don DeLillo of the United States, Carlos Fuentes of Mexico, Doris Lessing of Britain, Ian McEwan of Britain, Harry Mulisch of the Netherlands, Alice Munro of Canada, Michael Ondaatje of Canada, Amos Oz of Israel, Philip Roth of the United States, Salman Rushdie of Britain and Michel Tournier of France."

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Hear, Hear

" seems obvious (doesn't it?) that writing overlong books is at the very least plain bad manners. I can't understand why writers are so often pilloried for writing short books. Brevity is mistaken for laziness when more often than not it's the opposite that is true."

- Novelist Dan Rhodes. Read on for his list of top 10 short novels: "all killer, no filler".

Do Readings Matter?

In a long and interesting piece, Mik Awake asks, "I have been wondering for many years now...: what is the purpose of the literary reading? Publishers say, How else can a novelist sell books without going on tour and doing readings? Critics say, In this beleaguered age of literature, where books are quickly going the way of the dodo, we must embrace any event that celebrates literacy. But does the literary reading really help promote a book? And does it really celebrate literature—or just a certain type?"

At the (admittedly few) readings that one has attended, the one earnest question that almost always has been asked of the author is: "Where do you see yourself in the tradition of Indian writing in English?" To which the proper answer is, "In the mirror".

Goodbye, Kurt

"Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It's hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It's round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you've got about a hundred years here. There's only one rule that I know of, babies – 'God damn it, you've got to be kind."'

- From Kurt Vonnegut's God Bless You, Mr Rosewater. The novelist died on Wednesday, at 84.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Summer's Page Turners

From Don DeLillo to Michael Chabon to William Gibson and more, Publisher's Weekly offers you their pick of books to watch out for this summer.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

It's Alive!

There's someone out there who's saying that Frankenstein wasn't, after all, written by Mary Shelley. Doesn't matter, says Germaine Greer -- the book remains implausible, improbable and incoherent.

The Numbers Game

The number of books sold every year keeps rising; the number of independent bookshops out there keeps falling. If you've thought of chucking it all up to open a cosy bookstore of your own, think again.

Monday, April 09, 2007

The Afterlives Of Katherine Mansfield

"She inadvertently brought the influence of Chekhov to English modernism....She had vision beyond her own prideful ego....She wrote nearly 100 [stories], the strongest of which challenged and altered much in the nature and form of literary fiction of the modernist period and beyond....So many different lives and afterlives for such a short life."

- Ali Smith writes an excellent piece on Katherine Mansfield

Waving The White Flag

Those who can write go ahead and do it, and those who can't read books on writing. James Parker meditates on a few such tomes, and ends with this depressing, though predictable, piece of wisdom: "Perhaps we should all stop trying so hard to become novelists -- to shatter the blockage, burst the spirit's sleep, free that tiny trapped writer within. With life, time, and neurochemistry ranged so implacably against us, maybe we should just wave the white flag. A baker with whom I once worked, an irascible man who sought tranquility in the mysticism of the East, told me this story: A great guru was asked what guidance he might offer to a neophyte seeker, to one just setting out on the hard path of spiritual development. His reply was a single word: 'Don't.' "

Travelling Fiction

One of the pleasures of travelling is being able to read uninterruptedly when in transit. Here's John Freeman (again) on the 25 volumes he'd take with him if he was to pack his suitcase with great books suited to travel.