Prufrock's Page

Friday, June 15, 2007

Here, Grass Doesn't Mean Gunter

"People come from a range of age groups and social backgrounds - from teens in baggy skate jeans to rastas to smartly dressed elderly couples. This creates a lively ambience; indeed, it'll be a strange day when the audience at the Hay festival is told: 'If you're going to smoke spliff, please do so outside the tent.' "

- Daniel Trilling on a recent literary festival in Jamaica

Coming Soon: Mumbai

Recent NYU faculty member Suketu Mehta on Mumbai, again: "Wherever we live, whether it's a hamlet in Holland or a skyscraper in Seattle, we will not be untouched by what happens in megacities like Bombay. Disease and genius, crime and religion, poverty and wealth, are all maximized there, and, given the cheap availability of air fares, are coming soon to a theater near you."

It's Raining Awards

Close on the heels of the announcements of the International Man Booker and the Orange Prize comes the news that Norway's Per Patterson has won the Impac award for his novel Out Stealing Horses, the only translated work of the eight shortlisted for the award. Make it available here, someone.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

A Situation One Is Fast Approaching

"The lack of any viable alternative. Sloth. A dislike of being told what to do."

- Toby Litt, on why he writes.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Updike In Madurai

From our terrace at the Taj Garden Retreat,
the city below belies its snarl of commerce—
men pushing postcards on the teeming street,
and doe-eyed children begging with their words
so soft the language can’t be understood
even were we to try and were not fleeing
the nudge of stirred pity. Can life be good,
awakening us to hunger? What point has being?

Vishnu, sleeping, hatched the cosmic lotus
from his navel. The god-filled polychrome
great temple towers—glaring, mountainous—
assume from here a distant ghostly tone,
smoke shadows in the sleeping cityscape
that dreams a universe devoid of shape.

- From 'Madurai', a poem by John Updike in the new issue of The Atlantic. The site mentions that the rest is available only to subscribers (rats) so one isn't sure if the poem continues. Console yourself with another poem on Madurai, this one by A.K. Ramanujan.


Adam Kirsch weighs in on the Atlanta Journal Constitution debate with a broadside on litblogs: "...despite what the bloggers themselves believe, the future of literary culture does not lie with blogs — or at least, it shouldn't. The blog form, that miscellany of observations, opinions, and links, is not well-suited to writing about literature...The only useful part of most book blogs, in fact, are the links to long-form essays and articles by professional writers, usually from print journals."

Step Forward, Mr Achebe

Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe, the author of Things Fall Apart and Anthills of the Savannah,' won the Man Booker International Prize, defeating an illustrious list of contenders including Ian McEwan, Carlos Fuentes, Philip Roth and Salman Rushdie

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Paper Cuts

And now, the NYTBR announces a blog: Paper Cuts, hosted by Dwight Garner, "a daily round-up of news and opinion about books and other printed matter." Actually, "make that an almost daily round-up". And if you want to know where the staff of the review goes to socialise after hours, here's the blog's answer: Jimmy’s Corner, a bar in midtown Manhattan.

Stephen King, Esquire

Twenty-one thousand words spread over 23 pages. That's the length of Stephen King's new novella. And where can you find it? In a magazine.

The Pain Of Artists

Joan Acocella, cultural critic and staff writer for The New Yorker, has collected some of her essays into one volume, Twenty-eight Artists and Two Saints. And what's the theme? “My concern is the pain that came with the art-making, interfering with it, and how the artist dealt with this. Insofar as this collection of essays has a subject, that is it.” Her artists include Saul Bellow and Philip Roth (her review of The Plot Against America is here) and the two saints she's chosen are Mary Magdalene and Joan of Arc. Sounds like a book worth reading.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Dedicated To Writing

Research? Plot? Characters? Dialogue? No, the hardest part of writing a novel may well turn out to be the dedication, says Edward Docx. (He omits mention of perhaps the most famous of them all: P.G. Wodehouse's in The Heart of a Goof: "To my daughter Leonora, without whose never-failing sympathy and encouragement this book would have been finished in half the time.")

Heard The One About The Director And His Parodies?

"Nothing, in Woody-world, appears just once. Like 'Broadway' Danny Rose keeping his roster of old-time sub-celebrity talent employed, Allen writes as if he'd taken a pledge to keep his aged roster of gags, cerebral setups, Hadassah-esque names and nonstop Nazi, delicatessen and pants-business references in circulation. It's a postwar world preserved in kosher amber, from which the author wrings reliable laughter and insight."

- Jerry Stahl reviews Woody Allen's new collection, Mere Anarchy.

Encountering Roth

Suddenly his eyes fell on me, and we were quickly introduced. Now was my moment to speak to Philip Roth. Over the past 20 years, I have come up with hundreds and hundreds of questions that I wanted to ask him about his fiction, about his relationships with other writers, about his views on the world. But now, as I stood before him, my mind was a complete void of all of those thoughts. I held his warm, dry hand for a beat too long and said, "Thank you for all of the years of enjoyment you have given me."

- Blogger and bookseller Arsen Kashkashian meets Philip Roth and speaks to him about Sabbath's Theatre as well as his forthcoming Exit Ghost.

Chandra Down Under

Vikram Chandra is currently touring Australia and New Zealand to promote Sacred Games. Here, he speaks to The Age about the writing of the novel and his 'research' conducted amongst the underworld: "At the beginning, it was a little nerve-racking, and they do have a fair amount of bullshit they put on you. But they understand you're afraid of them, they don't need to show the big stick. Most of the time they were very avuncular and welcoming: 'Come, sit, have a cup of tea. What can I do for you?' "