Thursday, 23 August 2007

Grace Paley

Sad to learn of the passing of Grace Paley. A couple of years ago she was due to attend a short story event I was at, but she was too unwell to travel. Instead, she sent a home-made video, which was marvellously inspiring. She will be sadly missed.

Here’s her ‘final word’ from her Paris Review interview of 1992:

The best training is to read and write, no matter what. Don’t live with a lover or roommate who doesn’t respect your work. Don’t lie, buy time, borrow to buy time. Write what will stop your breath if you don’t write.

You can read the rest of the interview here:

Friday, 17 August 2007

Anthology Shmanthology

Well, what a busy week I’ve had! Apart from work, which has been going relatively well lately (in terms of output if not income!), I’ve also been putting together an anthology of work by members of the writers’ group I belong to. Deal Writers has been in existence for only a year or so, and while the group includes several established authors and playwrights this is the first time some of the members have submitted anything for publication.

The group decided some time ago that it would produce an anthology, but for months it seemed as though there wouldn’t be enough material and I was seriously thinking we would have to abandon the project. But then just lately I’ve received a flood of stories, poems and articles of a really high standard, and in the end my co-editor and I had to make some tough decisions about leaving out some really quite good stuff simply because we were running out of space (we already have a contract with the printer, so we have a fixed page limit). But the anthology is beginning to look really good.

So - now we know we have a viable publication, the arguments – sorry, I mean discussions – the discussions are beginning about what to call the thing. At least one member objects to the very use of the word ‘anthology’ altogether, on the basis that it’s old-fashioned and would give potential readers the wrong impression of the work. I think they’re wrong, because an anthology (dictionary definition) is exactly what it is. But then I still refer to LP records and frocks and listen to Radio 4 on the wireless.

Anyway, we shall have the, er, discussion at next week’s meeting and hopefully come up with something everyone can agree on.

Yeah, that was a joke.

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

What? No Harry Potter?

The long list for this year’s Man Booker Prize was announced last night and, depending on your morning paper, it was either ‘remarkably surprising’ (The Guardian) or contained ‘not too many surprises’ (the Times). Ian McEwan’s On Chesil Beach has immediately been installed as the bookie’s favourite to win the £50,000 prize, and as I’ve only read one other candidate (Mr Pip by Lloyd Jones) I can’t really argue with that.

The list in full:

Nicola Barker - Darkmans

Edward Docx - Self Help

Tan Twan Eng - The Gift Of Rain

Anne Enright - The Gathering

Mohsin Hamid - The Reluctant Fundamentalist

Peter Ho Davies - The Welsh Girl

Lloyd Jones - Mister Pip

Nikita Lalwani - Gifted

Ian McEwan - On Chesil Beach

Catherine O'Flynn - What Was Lost

Michael Redhill - Consolation

Indra Sinha - Animal's People

A N Wilson - Winnie & Wolf