Prufrock's Page

Friday, May 04, 2007

Summer Reading

The mercury's rising, and Yvonne Zip of the Christian Science Monitor has a round-up of "the best of the season's fiction". Strangely enough, there's not one title in there at present that strikes one as worth seeking out. Old age is a terible thing.

Map, Not Container

Michael Chabon's new novel, The Yiddish Policeman's Union, has been receiving rapturous reviews. Here he is on writing, genres and identity: "I don't see...genres as tightly sealed containers from which one must not allow the contents to be [mixed]. Literature is much more like a map and the genres are territories on that map and they border each other, they overlap. I wrote the novel in one of these border kingdoms. To me it's literature. What we typically would call literary fiction is a very imprecise term and what is most clearly most identifiably literary fiction is itself a genre."

Memories Of Anger

Colin Wilson, one of the original breed of Angry Young Men -- along with Osborne -- tells all. (Oh, and don't miss the brooding photograph.)

Thursday, May 03, 2007

One's Own Predicament -- Minus The Suede Diary

"I bought this beautiful orange, suede diary in Tuscany. I bought a few lovely notepads as well. The idea is to write, I don’t know when."

- Mohsin Hamid, on his future plans

The Importance Of Reviews

As those who peruse literary blogs will have learnt, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution recently eliminated the job of its book editor, leading to outraged protests, with many concerned that book coverage would only be provided mostly by wire services and reprints from national papers.

Critical Mass, the truly excellent blog of the National Book Critics Circle Board of Directors, has been giving the issue and the protests sterling coverage, and has even launched an online petition aimed at making the newspaper reverse its decision.

Meanwhile, the mainstream media, quick to seize upon any story that mentions blogs, hasn't been lagging behind -- here's a report on how relevant book reviewers are today from The New York Times, and here's one on "the organic link between books and newspapers" from the Columbia Journalism Review.

Sitting here, in a country whose media defines itself mainly by celebrity and "breaking news" coverage, it's heartening to find that such a ruckus can be raised over book reviews. Why, perhaps they're important, after all.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

A Dark P.G. Wodehouse

A reappraisal of Saki on the occasion of a BBC documentary: "He...identified strongly with the animal kingdom and used it to fantasise the rebellion of untamed nature against Edwardian nurture, gleefully letting feral creatures slip among his cossetted humans. His tales are loaded with death and destruction, flippancy and cynicism. It’s how you imagine P. G. Wodehouse if he went over to the Dark Side."

A Wealth Of Stories

Yiyun Li won the first, Murakami the second, and now "Alice Munro and David Malouf head the longlist for the world's richest prize for a collection of short stories, the Frank O'Connor award". The shortlist will be announced in July, and the winner declared at Cork's Frank O'Connor International Short Story Festival in September


Adam Kirsch is a trifle underwhelmed by Don DeLillo's new novel: "Falling Man...offers neither the sprawling historical canvas of Underworld, nor the thesis-driven postmodernism of Libra and Mao II. Instead, like Mr. DeLillo's last two novels — Cosmopolis and The Body Artist, neither very well received — the new book is small-scale and subdued, at times even a bit airless."

Monday, April 30, 2007

For Shakti Bhatt

Do visit. And contribute.

A Critic's Rereading

"In my review of The Road in [The Telegraph] , I wrote: 'McCarthy's publisher is presenting The Road as his masterpiece; it's not, and in fact he's probably already written that.' I had in mind the labyrinthine structuring of Blood Meridian, or his understanding of the arcane workings of sexual love in The Border Trilogy. But I was mistaken; The Road, which has been awarded this year's Pulitzer prize for fiction, is the crystalline culmination and encapsulation of everything McCarthy has written so far (I'm tempted to say of everything that's ever been written). It calls me back and each time I find wonders. It makes me tremble, even on my 20th visit. "

- Niall Griffiths

She's Baaack!

After some years of relative isolation, Tina Brown returns with a book on (oh, no) Princess Diana. It begins with "an account of the last 'girls' lunch' she had with the Princess at the Four Seasons restaurant in Manhattan in the summer of 1997." Let's just be polite and say one won't be making space for it on one's shelves anytime soon.

Just A More Sophisticated Way Of Announcing A Demise

"The readership has fractured, and reads less, and spends more time e-mailing. And it makes less sense to talk about novelists now. The really creative writing is being done in other genres such as the personal essay, reportage and criticism. The novel has become like landscape painting. It's the 'top' genre, but not, in real life, the main one."

- Lorin Stein, an editor at Farrar Straus & Giroux