Prufrock's Page

Friday, May 25, 2007

A Bit Of A Break

Back at the end of the month.

A Call To Dionysus

"What is wrong with the modern literary novel? Why is it so worthy and dull? Why is it so anxious? Why is it so bloody boring?" Julian Gough tells us.

A New Ingredient

So you thought writing about food nowadays meant dwelling on the pleasures of domestic repasts, evocative descriptions of fresh ingredients, memories of evenings at restaurants and interviews with great chefs? Not at all: it's about ethics.

And while you're, er, digesting those observations, you can whet your appetite with -- these food metaphors have to stop -- this critique of The Table Is Laid: The Oxford Anthology of South Asian Food Writing: "To read about Indian food in English is also to realize the alienating effect of the foreign language. It makes the ordinary daaler bora turn into unfamiliar lentil cakes, as Buddhadeva Bose pointed out in a delightful essay on Indian food, but cannot distinguish the fried nuggets from the sun-dried daaler bori."

Good God

The latest literary feud? It's between the faithful and the faithless. Here's a field guide.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Attack Of The Slush Pile

Someday, they'll make a horror movie in which an aspiring author fears the onset of night because it's then that he's beset by dreams of an all-devouring creature called The Slush Pile. Until then, there's this article to read: "The physical act of writing a book may not be difficult, but there's a big difference between smacking away at a keyboard and writing something that anyone who doesn't really love you wants to read."


Yesterday, "the entire contents of the 87-year-old Gotham Book Mart - from rare first-edition John Updike novels to the worn-out oriental rug on the third floor - was sold en masse for $400,000 at a court-mandated auction".


"Gordon Brown believes they are a sign of a new seriousness in Britain. Publishers believe they raise their writers' profiles in a notoriously overcrowded market. And, most importantly, readers flock to them in ever-growing numbers with inquiring minds and open wallets."

- Literary festivals are no longer merely humble gatherings of authors and fans, discover Cahal Milmo and Rob Sharp

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

History And Gore

”Since I’ve known most of the American historians, I never took seriously anything they wrote. Therefore I wrote 20 novels based on American history because I wanted it to be accurate. I address the crisis facing us, that we are the most hated nation on earth, and I am one of the big explainers of what we have done. Other writers can’t do it because they don’t know anything about the history of the United States, much less Islam, Saladin, Genghis Khan, Mao Zedong.”

- Gore Vidal's lunchtime musings.

As She Is Spoke

Rules of English grammar you know without being taught.

Monday, May 21, 2007

'A Walk In March'

A wonderfully descriptive and puckish new poem by the 85-year-old Grace Paley appears in the new New Yorker. (Which is as good an occasion as any to re-read this Salon interview.)

The Literary Fallout Of 9/11

"Struggling to define cultural otherness, DeLillo, Updike and Amis fail to recognise that belief and ideology remain the unseen and overwhelming forces behind gaudy fantasies about virgins. Assembled from jihad-mongering journalism and propaganda videos and websites, their identikit terrorists make Conrad's witheringly evoked revolutionaries in The Secret Agent and Under Western Eyes look multidimensional." That's Pankaj Mishra's harsh assessment of post-9/11 novels, which goes on to assert: "...most of the literary fiction that self-consciously addresses 9/11 still seems underpinned by outdated assumptions of national isolation and self-sufficiency". He outlines other authors and books that those seeking "a capacious moral vision in contemporary American literature" would be well-advised to turn to: Jennifer Egan's Look At Me, Rattawut Lapcharoensap's Sightseeing, Nell Freudenberger's Lucky Girls, Norman Rush's Mortals, for example.

My Professor Is A Blog

Welcome to The Blabberwocky (not to be confused with this site), where Jadavpur University students and professors "keep track of each other’s writings and musings, [and] also...remain updated on things as mundane as class and term papers." (Information courtesy this report.)

Making Hay

"In August 1987, a bunch of us got together around my mother’s kitchen table. My father had the idea of inviting friends and some people he really admired up for the weekend to talk, play and hang out."

- Peter Florence on the origins of the Hay Festival, now in its 20th year.

Post Pol Pot

"Today's Phnom Penh has come a long way from the haunted, empty place of 1975, when the Khmer Rouge drove its entire population into the countryside to grow rice."

- After writing about Internet censorship, Hari Kunzru turns his sights on Cambodia's present.