Prufrock's Page

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Theroux's India

Inexplicably, one stopped reading Paul Theroux after his Sir Vidia's Shadow, bitchy and compelling though that work was. Now, however, he has a new book on the cards that sounds interesting. Titled The Elephanta Suite, it's a series of novellas based in India. As the breathless blurb has it: "A holidaying middle-aged couple veer heedlessly from idyll to chaos. A buttoned-up Boston lawyer finds relief in Mumbai's reeking slums. A young woman befriends an elephant in Bangalore. We also meet Indian characters as distinctive as they are indicative of their country's subtle ironies: an executive who yearns to become a holy beggar, an earnest young striver whose personality is transformed by acquiring an American accent, a miracle-working guru, and more."

On second thoughts, it sounds suspiciously exotic.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

What Should You Look For In An MFA Program?

Inspiring teachers? A small like-minded community? Informed, and not bitchy, critiques? Access to beer? In The Atlantic, Edward J. Delaney discusses America's best graduate writing programs and how to compare them.

A Wild Sheep Chase

Shepherd George Glenn is found in a sheep pasture, with a spade in his chest. The humans present are helpless so some talking sheep come into play to solve the crime.

That's the unlikely plot of Three Bags Full: A Sheep Detective Story by the pseudonymous Berlin-based Leonie Swann, a bestseller that's so far been translated into 26 languages. Here's a self-deprecating interview.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Our Man In Islamabad

"...on a sweltering day this May the streets were crowded with noisily chanting protesters, all of them demonstrating against the military government of President Pervez Musharraf. Three separate protests were under way. Each one represented a slightly different vision of the future that Pakistan might have if—as now seems more likely than ever—Musharraf’s government were to fall. "

- That's William Dalrymple reporting from Pakistan for The New Yorker.

Notes From Another Small Island

Suketu Mehta, who seems to be making a career out of writing about Mumbai, answers the question: So, why do people still live there?

Notes From A Small Island

So, what can you say about the English language? It's “the most successful language that hurdled teeth” with “more ways of saying more things than any other language,” a language “as new as the most recent refugee,” a “brilliant, invisible river that flows all round us, full of things that we’ve left unsaid,” something “deeper than you will ever manage to plumb and faster than you will ever patter.”

Ah, but the English people? This “ugly race,” afflicted by an “earthbound pedantic spirituality” and “puce-faced, finger-jabbing, spittle-flecked politics,” a people “impervious to fondness, sympathy or attraction” and susceptible to “a Pooterish yearning for a Fascist order.”

A.A. Gill's new book seems interesting, to say the least. (N.B. He's from Scotland.)