Merry Christmas!

December 22, 2007 at 4:48 pm (1)

Christmas sweets
I hope that you get all the lovely books that you could hope for.
 See you in the New Year.

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Doris Lessing’s Nobel address

December 17, 2007 at 3:45 pm (Reading) (, , )

“The storyteller is deep inside every one of us. The story-maker is always with us. Let us suppose our world is ravaged by war, by the horrors that we all of us easily imagine. Let us suppose floods wash through our cities, the seas rise. But the storyteller will be there, for it is our imaginations which shape us, keep us, create us – for good and for ill. It is our stories that will recreate us, when we are torn, hurt, even destroyed. It is the storyteller, the dream-maker, the myth-maker, that is our phoenix, that represents us at our best, and at our most creative.”

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Ink or keys?

December 10, 2007 at 8:46 pm (Writing) (, , , )

So, do you write on paper or your computer?  Do you scribble away in fantastic notebooks or have a folder for each chapter on your desktop?  Do you find the two methods wholly incompatible or do you mix and match according to mood and circumstance?

For me, it depends not on my mood, location, or ink supply, but on the form.  Fiction flickers into life on my computer screen, while verse I write on any scrap of paper that’s to hand.  I cannot happen any other way.  I may jot down a few paragraphs in my notebook, but any sustained fiction has to be typed.  Similarly, I tend to type up poems once they’re done, but sit me in front of a blank word document and you won’t get a line of blank verse.  It’s terribly outmoded, but I, and my writing hand, still think that poetry should be a natural, spontaneous thing, an anathema to that technological box of tricks.  So, what about fiction?  Writerly types of the past wrote whole tomes using their pretty little hands – why shouldn’t I?  Ah, it’s the lure of the delete key – I just can’t resist.  I’m even doing it now.  Write a sentence, rub it out, write it again, write three more, scrub half out.  Modern paper isn’t exactly palimpsest quality, I don’t think it could cope with my zealous erasing.  My trusty delete key, however, holds up just fine.

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Reading this week

December 4, 2007 at 10:24 pm (Reading) (, , )

Well, last week technically, but I just had to write about this book!  The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay pretty much rocked my world.

I actually forgot that I was in a hotel room in Prague and thought that I would set foot outside into New York City as soon as I finished the chapter.  I’ve never read a comic book in my life, but the history and the allegories all made perfect sense as I read.  What really got me about this novel, though, was the character of Sammy Clay.  It frustrated me no end when Chabon focussed on Joe Kavalier for longer than a chapter – I wanted to get back to Sam!  Kavalier took precedence in both the title and the narrative, but it was Clay that made me laugh, cry, and punch pillows.  I ached for him to be happy.  I identified him with pretty much every guy in my life.  I couldn’t believe it when the novel ended.

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Reading in coffee shops

December 3, 2007 at 9:59 pm (Doing, Reading) (, )

So, how long do you think that you can eek out one decaf filter coffee whilst engrossed in a good book?  My record in Prague last week was one hour and twenty minutes – at that point the very cold dregs in the bottom of my cup no longer constituted a drink and I felt compelled to move on.   Despite having spent a whole 40 koruna (about a quid) and mimed a pulsing migraine to specify the necessary decaffeinated nature of my beverage, I felt guilty for taking up a chair when I no longer had any drink left.  Or did I feel that if I stayed any longer, I’d be obliged to buy another coffee?  Just what is the etiquette of time versus cups?

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