Thursday, 7 April 2011

Changing the subject: fiction

On Saturday I’m going to an event at the Free Word Centre at which Gabriel Josipovici, Geoff Dyer and Dubravka Ugresic (whose Thank You for Not Reading, 2003, was, the blurb rightly says, ‘a biting critique of book publishing’; many of the idiocies it describes are now accepted with a shrug as the norm) will discuss the novel.

Readers from the poetry planet (the focus of the last post) should know that the fiction planet is inhabited by just as many factions as their own. Devotees of Kafka, Beckett, Bernhard tend to find McEwan, Barnes, Amis unreadable, and vice versa. There are many other positions (nostalgists, reconnaissance parties, etc). In which camp does CBe pitch its tent? I’ve never been much good at putting up tents. On the one hand, I did recently read a McEwan and found it writing-by-numbers, a waste of my time. On the other hand, there are some writers just about within the mainstream (Penelope Fitzgerald, James Salter, James Kennaway) I worship.

Meanwhile, for a terrific interview with a writer whose recent book was billed by the publisher as a memoir ‘but increasingly I’d be just as happy to call it a book, and let the reader decide, or better yet, not decide’, go to John Self’s Asylum.

PS. Readers of the CBe edition of Francis Ponge, Unfinished Ode to Mud, trans. Beverley Bie Brahic, may like a Kleinzahler poem in the current LRB in which Ponge (‘lapsed surrealist, champion of the apple / in all its appleness, and so on’) watches a Bugs Bunny video.


John Self said...

Penelope Fitzgerald - yes!
James Salter - yes!
James Kennaway - er ... *scuttles off to google*

charles said...

Kennaway, a singular passion: Silence, The Cost of Living like This, for starters. Canongate do an omnibus edition, resting quietly in the backwaters of their catalogue.

John-o said...

Kennaway's "Some Gorgeous Accident" is also very good, if you can find a copy...