Prufrock's Page

Friday, April 20, 2007

Should Have Gone To Cambridge Instead

"I wanted to learn to write, and I began to write in my fifth year away from Trinidad. Oxford didn't teach me anything, nothing at all."

- V.S. Naipaul, at a conference at the University of West Indies, adding that writing has brought him "a very hard life" -- but he would not change a thing.


Looking forward to checking out the next 'best of' book list? Tim Footman has some advice for you: " heart, most of them offer essentially the same thing as those polls that tell us the celebrity from whom most would like to receive mouth-to-mouth resuscitation (Angelina Jolie? Jessica Alba? Dot Cotton?) and it takes you three paragraphs to realise the whole thing is a clumsy press release for Zovirax or Listerine or the new series of Casualty. As conventional advertising loses its power over our minds, polls and lists just offer another, cheaper way for capitalists to hijack the media in order to promote their products."

The World's Tongue

Rival factions, "the language of spies", an anti-Semitic plot, conniving and treachery...inside the wonderful world of Esperanto.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

You Can Say That Again

"I think we have a huge problem of everything being governed by success and money. I think it's appalling. Newspapers list the 10 bestselling movies of the week, as opposed to the 10 best. The fantasy is to make the most money, even if it's Porky's 7. I think it's a bad time."

- From a long and interesting interview with Michael Ondaatje, on the occasion of the publication of his new book, Divisadero

Life Of Yann

Remember Yann Martel? Of course you do. Well, of late he's been increasingly concerned with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s lack of interest in the arts. And he even has a website devoted to the issue.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Englander's Novel

One is eagerly looking forward to The Ministry of Special Cases, Nathan Englander's debut novel. Set in 1976 Beunos Aires, it deals with a couple's search for their vanished teenage son. In Esquire, Tyler Cabot says: "Englander's prose moves along with a tempered ferocity -- simple yet deceptively incisive...Englander's book isn't so much about the search for a lost boy. It's about fathers and sons and mothers and faith and community and war and hope and shame."

And in Bookforum, Peter Terzian calls it "harrowing and brilliant", adding: "Englander's great gifts are an absurdist sense of humor and a brisk, almost breezy narrative voice. He handles his unbearable subjects with the comic panache of a vaudeville artist, before delivering the final, devastating blow."

Oh dear. All this is causing expectations to soar to dangerously high levels.

Banville Meets Black

From TEV, a link to a delightful profile of Benjamin Black by John Banville:

"He buzzes me in through the front door and I climb three silent flights of stairs. The silence tells me this is a childless establishment. Children do not figure in BB’s world except as victims, rejects, pawns in an appalling power-game. But immediately I have to make an adjustment: BB is not Quirke, the troubled and troubling hero of BB’s first novel, Christine Falls. For all I know BB may be a pipe-smoking family man in carpet slippers and a Fair Isle jumper.

"He is not."

(One hasn't been able to come across the book yet. Most annoying.)

Kureishi Vs The BBC

The author Hanif Kureishi accused the BBC of censorship last night, after it dropped a radio broadcast of his short story describing the work of a cameraman who films the executions of western captives in Iraq.

An Original Project

"Originality itself is sourced. It comes from the idea that culture is a conversation. To wish for anything else is a kind of death impulse. To say that things shouldn’t come from other things is to want there to be no things."

- Jonathan Lethem, who's backing up his words with the Promiscuous Materials Project, in which he offers his stories to "filmmakers or dramatists to adapt...available non-exclusively -- meaning other people may be working from the same material -- and the cost is a dollar apiece."

The Awards Season

Cormac McCarthy wins a well-deserved Pulitzer for fiction for The Road. Meanwhile, "an epic story about the Nigerian civil war and a satire on maternal pride and prejudice in small-town America have emerged as frontrunners for this year's £30,000 Orange fiction award".

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


Books. Who has the time to read them all? Which is where Antiblurbs comes in: "You can buy them. You can borrow them. You can steal them. But are all those books out there really worth your while? Herewith some brief assessments."

Do check it out.

Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi, Are You Listening?

Rumour has it that the writer's equivalent of American Idol will begin airing on British TV in July: "...writers will pitch their book ideas to a panel of judges; the winner will land a publishing contract."

How They Write

Squeaky chairs, earplugs, photographs of grandmothers and rhinos....oh, these authors.

Wood On Bolano

The English translation of Roberto Bolano's The Savage Detectives has attracted much respectful attention. Here's James Wood on the Chilean author: "A novel all about poetry and poets, one of whose heroes is a lightly disguised version of the author himself: how easily this could be nothing more than a precious lattice of ludic narcissism and unbearably 'literary' adventures! Again, Bolaño skirts danger and then gleefully accelerates away from it. The novel is wildly enjoyable (as well as, finally, full of lament), in part because Bolaño has a worldly, literal sensibility."