Here is a collection of the little bits and pieces that caught my eye on twitter and facebook recently.
Starting with a picture that I loved:
Then there were a couple of David Foster Wallace pieces. I admit to being a little obsessed with him, but it’s like my Hemingway obsession; it’s more about them the men rather than their writing, even though I like that too. I have several DFW novels, including Infinite Jest (not sure I got past 200 pages) and this week The Pale King arrived. If you ever get a chance to read his essay on cruise ships (called A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again) then do. Hell, here’s a link that has links to a lot of his stuff. 25 great essays by DFW
This is the article I read from Salon, a current one, but it references DFW’s views on irony and how it was/is ruining our culture. It’s interesting reading.
And then a series of thoughts from him on writing productivity. I love the way he doesn’t try to be highfalutin’ in his written work. Valley Girl use of ‘like’? Check. Absence of commas? Check.
Do you have like a daily writing routine?
– David Foster Wallace
Here’s that essay:
Enough David Foster Wallace. There’s a new book out called Only the Animals written by Ceridwen Dovey. Over the weekend it got two good reviews in the papers. Here is one of them by Geordie Williamson in The Australian:
And then this one in The Saturday Paper, written by anonymous:
I bought the book today at Readings so I shall let you know how I go. I’m a bit excited.
Another book I bought today is one I’ve been hearing buzz about, it’s Joel Dicker’s The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair. Described by Martin Shaw on twitter as ” it’s very sweet…I enjoyed it probably more than I should have (being theoretically a ‘High Lit’ kinda guy…)”.
Francine Prose wrote an article for The Atlantic on how writing can be taught by reading, and by close reading. Here it is. Prose also wrote a ‘how to’ writing book called Reading Like a Writer, a book that MJ Hyland said is the one book people should read, and it can ‘speed up your apprenticeship by a couple of years.’
The Museum of Innocence in Istanbul turned two this week. I haven’t been because it wasn’t open when I was last there in 2010. I love Orhan Pamuk, I love his obsessive nature, and it can only be obsession that leads a man to create something like this. Of course he had help, but if you can see amongst the photos all the cigarette butts that were smoked, put out and labelled; he did that himself. I think he started collecting the objets as he was writing his book, also called The Museum of Innocence. Possibly the found objects helped create the narrative. I love that idea. Him scouring the shops and market stalls of his beloved city, locating and collecting pieces that in his mind make his characters real. The story itself is about a young gadabout from a wealthy family, Kemal, who is about to be married to Sibel when he meets a shop girl, Füsun , and falls in love with her. At first, the narrative is gripping and like a roller coaster; you cannot wait to see what happens, you read it holding your breath. And then, then, in the middle section, the pace slows and time stops as Kemal, and you the reader, along for the by this point DULL ride, of waiting as he waits, for Füsun . There are shades of Love in the Time of Cholera in this, but I haven’t read Cholera for more than twenty years so I can’t remember the details. One of my writing friends gave it away at that point, she couldn’t bear it. But I found it quite sublime, and happily entrusted myself to Pamuk, and sat with his protagonist through countless evenings as he sat and watched television with the disappeared Füsun ‘s parents, waiting and hoping to see her. It is one of my favourite books but I can understand how it would resonate more for me than many others.
Author and blogger Annabel Smith has a regular Reading Round-Up at her blog which details her monthly reads, letting you know which books she liked, which she didn’t and which she abandoned.
This is pretty wise. It’s a list of amateur vs professional traits and I think there’s a lot of truth in it. It came via lit agent Virginia Lloyd on twitter. I still have some work to do.
The Stella Prize was awarded during the week and this year it went to the historical non-fiction book The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka by Clare Wright. The announcement was made over twitter and this is the page at the Stella Prize’s website. I had read three of the titles on the shortlist (Burial Rites, Boy, Lost and Night Games) and started The Night Guest. I was enjoying it quite a lot before I got distracted by something else, LIFE probably. And then read Game of Thrones, finished the first book, then not one but TWO Rob Lowe memoirs, and then finished a book about the Fred and Rosemary West killings, you know how sometimes you just want a certain type of book?)
I have no opinion about Wright’s book but I do have a question: Because fiction won last year and non-fiction this year, does that mean the judges are going to struggle to break the precedent, that is, will they feel obliged to award the prize alternately to fiction and non-fiction titles? (Last year’s inaugural prize was won by Carrie Tiffany for Mateship with Birds, a worthy winner, I really liked it) and the shortlist comprised all fiction works, including one or two short story collections. This year the shortlist was three works of fiction and three of NF. Everyone was saying that it would go to a NF book, and it did.
I’m not sure how I feel about fiction and NF being judged together in the one prize. Who knows, maybe soon they will have two prizes, and split them out. I think that would be fab.
Finally, much amusement has come my way this week because of a tweeter called @WFQuestions. ‘She’ tweets all sorts of penetrating questions to people about writers festivals and literature. ‘She’ is very funny. There was discussion this week where people were guessing who they think it is. I don’t want to know, because once their cover is blown, they might stop. Last year there was a Tim Winton who was hilarious; similar humour. Wonder if it’s the same person. Anyway, the Winton account has gone, but you can look up @WFQuestions twitter feed here.
Have a good weekend.