Prufrock's Page

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Still In Top Form

A unique vision. Aesthetic pleasure. Liberating magic. To experience all of these, "skip the movies, forget the theatre, turn off your TV set" and turn to literary fiction, says Rick Groen, for "today's novel is alive and crucially vital – at best, in top form, it's a liberating rebel with a sublime cause."

Friday, July 13, 2007

What Does Margaret Drabble's Writing Room Look Like?


[Owing to a mix-up on The Guardian's books site, the link that pointed to Drabble is now changed to Banville. Drabble's room is here . Corrected, thanks to the helpful, encouraging comment one has received and published.]

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Frustration And Gratitude

"Frustration (at the world) and gratitude (to all the writers who let me escape it, temporarily)."

- Hari Kunzru, on what made him start writing.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


“In his house in Jamaica, Ian Fleming used to write 1,000 words in the morning, then go snorkeling, have a cocktail, lunch on the terrace, more diving, another 1,000 words in late afternoon, then more martinis and glamorous women. In my house in London, I followed this routine exactly, apart from the cocktails, the lunch and the snorkeling.”

- Sebastian Faulks, on his being equipped to write the next James Bond novel, Devil May Care

Reading, Thinking, Writing, Ingesting

"I think they are sanctuaries....They are sanctuaries for me also as a writer. When I'm writing one of these, I pretty much stop doing everything else for two or three weeks and lose myself in the subject, so I write only about things that I'm really interested in and want to know more about. I do nothing during those two or three weeks but read and think and then write about that subject. Or, in the case of a couple of these that were about food — coffee and ice cream — ingest, in addition to reading, thinking, and writing. [Laughs] It's good that I didn't spend more than three weeks on the ice cream essay; otherwise, I would have had a major obesity problem by the end. "

- Anne Fadiman on the art of the essay

Bhopal's People

Voted by his peers as one of the top 10 British copywriters of all time, India-born Indra Sinha walked away from his advertising career in 1994 to write "about things that mattered". Two novels later, he may at last have found his subject with Animal's People, a novel inspired by his abiding interest in helping the victims of the Bhopal gas tragedy: "[The book] reveals that the very spirit of Bhopal has seeped into his unconscious, much as the gas from Union Carbide's factory has leaked into Bhopal's collective bloodstream."

And Don't You Forget To Dress Warm, Nathan

Ben Harris finds common ground between The Ministry of Special Cases and The Yiddish Policemen's Union: "...while Englander and Chabon may be heirs to a literary legacy that has made an art out of savaging the fears of Diaspora Jews, they both seem to have come around to the idea that their overprotective Jewish mothers might have been on to something." And why is that? "Neither in urban exile, nor the Alaskan wilderness can the Jews chase their desires and indulge their neuroses free from the depredations of the gentiles".

Prolific Or Talented?

Geeta Sharma-Jensen speaks to Michael Ondaatje, whose Divisadero is attracting favourable reviews, and finds him trying to bring poetry into fiction, thus taking a long time about it: "Each novel takes him about five years to complete. Then, he spends a year or two getting over it before he can even think of writing another novel, he says." Meanwhile, the alarmingly prolific Joyce Carol Oates (117 volumes of poetry, fiction, and criticism!), who's just released The Gravedigger's Daughter, replies to charges of over-production: ''Like most people, I can be very easily hurt. You need so much energy and encouragement to write that if someone says something negative, some of that energy goes. [But] I think it's inevitable. And understandable.''