Sunday, January 12, 2014

What I’m reading #109

Yes, yes, I will soon get back to posting material from Quote Unquote the magazine, but meanwhile:

On our holiday – we went up north for a while – my wife read a few books plus The Luminaries which she loved. I read six books –crime,  music,  maths/philosophy and most of Middlemarch which is possibly even longer than The Luminaries.  Competitive readers.

Tim Parks on competitive authors:
Pick up a copy of Rushdie’s memoir Joseph Anton (the pseudonym that aligns Rushdie with two of the greatest writers of modern times) and you find that almost every relationship, whether it be with friends and rivals at school, with his wives and partners, with fellow writers, and finally with the world of Islam is seen in terms of winning and losing. And at the painful core of these struggles, at least early on, is “his repeated failures to be, or become, a decent publishable writer of fiction.” This is the competition of competitions. Publication. [. . .] Why do we have this uncritical reverence for the published writer? Why does the simple fact of publication suddenly make a person, hitherto almost derided, now a proper object of our admiration, a repository of special and important knowledge about the human condition? And more interestingly, what effect does this shift from derision to reverence have on the author and his work, and on literary fiction in general?
I met that Salman Rushdie once, when he was a target for assassination and I was standing between him and a large window of assassin-opportunity. I bailed, leaving CK Stead somewhat exposed.

Club boss ‘kidnapped by strippers in miniskirts, Daisy Dukes and stilettos’
Talk about first-world problems.

Authors who complain about not selling more copies than they deserve might contemplate this John Cheever quote in the NY Times:
I can’t write without a reader. It’s precisely like a kiss — you can’t do it alone.
Quite. Those who have no sense of their audience will soon end up with no audience. Unless one is a genius – but who among us is?

So here, via Mick Hartley, is David Bowie tossing up with Angie between his two best possible post-Ziggy identies, Aladdin Sane and Cobbler Bob:


Anonymous said...

Were you, perchance, reading "Middlemarch" (re-reading, I hope: no civilised person is permitted to say anything about books unless he/she has read it at least once) because, like me, you have had Rebecca Mead's just-published "The Road to Middlemarch" thrust into your hands?

Stephen Stratford said...

No, I just thought it was about time. I'd never heard of Rebecca Mead but will look for her book as soon as I've finished this one.