Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Book rage

Books are dangerous. Each year 10,683 people in America and 2,707 people in Britain are seriously injured by books (I read this on the net so it must be true). A year or so back I wasn’t allowed to take a book with me as hand luggage on a flight from Italy (and had to be dragged away before I physically assaulted the check-in lady).

Sometimes it’s the other way round, with books as the victims. Book rage. There’s a scene in an early Alan Sillitoe novel where the main character feels a sudden urge to chuck all the books on his shelves out of the window; reading this in my late teens, I identified – the wish to strip away all the swaddling layers of culture, to confront the world naked. (Of course it can’t be done: the books you’ve read are as much inside you as on the shelves: you’re infected, simply by reading, and possibly contagious too.)

The woman in the photos is Susana Medina. She writes stories, poems, essays, filmscripts . . . ‘To be coherent art must fire in every direction.’ No conventional beginning-middle-and-ending novels there. Her books don’t sit quietly on the shelves.

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