The Collector

May 10, 2018

The Collector

In memory of Ivan P.

In the stillness of the cemetery,
I wonder how it is a man will live
for only books, but rarely read them,
books to pile in towers
on counter tops,
tables, floor, towers that could be seen as
art, if we focused on texture, colour,
could be taken as virtuous, if we
accepted his belief, that rescuing books
from yard sales, trash bins was a calling.
He planned to build a bookcase,
solid oak, floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall,
was constantly filling a notepad
with sketches, plans. When he died
we buried the notepad with him,
added books, but unable to decide,
chose them randomly.

Louisa Howerow

try my hand at a novel

January 30, 2018

EMILIA DZIUBAK

I was always into horror when I was a kid – the old American International pictures, the big-bug movies, then the Hammer stuff. And of course the books, Dracula and Dr. Jekyll, Frankenstein, Shirley Jackson’s novels, and the great pulp writers like Robert Bloch, Ray Bradbury, Theodore Sturgeon, and Richard Matheson. I even briefly liked Lovecraft, though I find him utterly unreadable now. When I decided that I wanted to get out of writing for magazines try my hand at a novel, King and Straub and a number of other really fine writers were already well into their stride and I was reading them a lot, and the movies had become a lot edgier and in-your-face, with stuff like The Exorcist, Night of the Living Dead, Texas Chainsaw Massacre and the like, and I thought it was a very exciting period to be writing horror. So it was natural that I gravitate there with my first one, Off Season.

Jack Ketchum
Interview with Rob Hart for Litreactor, 27th April 2012

let the thing invent itself

January 12, 2018

Pedro Otero - Deshumanización del hombre

I knew very early on that I wanted to be a writer. I mean, when I was a child I knew that…

…I think it is important to make a detailed plan before you write the first sentence. Some people think one should write, “George woke up and knew that something terrible had happened yesterday,” and then see what happens. I plan the whole thing in detail before I begin. I have a general scheme and lots of notes. Every chapter is planned. Every conversation is planned. This is, of course, a primary stage, and very frightening because you’ve committed yourself at this point. I mean, a novel is a long job, and if you get it wrong at the start you’re going to be very unhappy later on. The second stage is that one should sit quietly and let the thing invent itself. One piece of imagination leads to another. You think about a certain situation and then some quite extraordinary aspect of it suddenly appears. The deep things that the work is about declare themselves and connect. Somehow things fly together and generate other things, and characters invent other characters, as if they were all doing it themselves. One should be patient and extend this period as far as possible. Of course, actually writing it involves a different kind of imagination and work…

…I do enjoy it, but it has, of course – I mean, this is true of any art form – moments when you think it’s awful, you lose confidence and it’s all black. You can’t think and so on. So, it’s not all enjoyment. But I don’t actually find writing in itself difficult. The creation of the story is the agonizing part. You have the extraordinary experience when you begin a novel that you are now in a state of unlimited freedom, and this is alarming. Every choice you make will exclude another choice, so that it’s rather important what happens then, what state of mind you’re in and what you think matters. Books should have themes. I choose titles carefully and the titles in some way indicate something deep in the theme of the book. Names are important. The names sometimes don’t come at once, but the physical being and the mind of the character have to come pretty early on and you just have to wait for the gods to offer you something. You have to spend a lot of time looking out of the window and writing down scrappy notes that may or may not help. You have to wait patiently until you feel that you’re getting the thing right – who the people are, what it’s all about, how it moves. I may take a long time, say a year, just sitting and fishing around, putting the thing into some sort of shape. The I do a very detailed synopsis of every chapter, every conversation, everything that happens. That would be another operation…

Iris Murdoch
Interview with Jeffery Meyers in Paris Review summer 1990

the echo of words

January 2, 2018

Once, in my father’s bookshop, I heard a regular customer say that few things leave a deeper mark on a reader than the first book that finds its way into his heart. Those first images, the echo of words we think we have left behind, accompany us throughout our lives and sculpt a palace in our memory to which, sooner or later – no matter how many books we read, how many worlds we discover, or how much we learn or forget – we will return.

Carlos Ruiz Zafón
The Shadow of the Wind
Trans. Lucia Graves

something coldly intellectual

November 18, 2017

sun sinks in to the sea

It strikes me that being passionate about literature is something not often discussed. I read an article the other day which essentially offered only two ways of enjoying books: entertainment or something coldly intellectual.

But I’ve experienced another: a deeply emotional, transformative response. It cuts across any notions of genre, and is what made me love books. The first time I experienced this, I had no idea how to conceptualise it. The framework I’d learned at school didn’t really help here.

But when I read Andy Miller talk about “the dizzying force of books”, I think: that’s what I’ve felt. When I read Gabriel Josipovici talk about a work of art as a toy, I feel a step closer to understanding what it is that I’ve felt and feel.

To capture that in writing, though…It feels as though it needs something that doesn’t look like a book review.

David Hebblethwaite
Des Lewis Blog – 18th September 2017

Sunday morning idea

September 24, 2017

There is only one way to read, which is to browse in libraries and bookshops, picking up books that attract you, reading only those, dropping them when they bore you, skipping the parts that drag-and never, never reading anything because you feel you ought, or because it is part of a trend or a movement. Remember that the book which bores you when you are twenty or thirty will open doors for you when you are forty or fifty-and vise-versa. Don’t read a book out of its right time for you. Remember that for all the books we have in print, are as many that have never reached print, have never been written down — even now, in this age of compulsive reverence for the written word, history, even social ethic, are taught by means of stories, and the people who have been conditioned into thinking only in terms of what is written — and unfortunately nearly all the products of our educational system can do no more than this — are missing what is before their eyes. For instance, the real history of Africa is still in the custody of black storytellers and wise men, black historians, medicine men: it is a verbal history, still kept safe from the white man and his predations. Everywhere, if you keep your mind open, you will find the truth in words not written down. So never let the printed page be your master. Above all, you should know that the fact that you have to spend one year, or two years, on one book, or one author means that you are badly taught — you should have been taught to read your way from one sympathy to another, you should be learning to follow your own intuitive feeling about what you need: that is what you should have been developing, not the way to quote from other people.

But unfortunately it is nearly always too late.

Doris Lessing
The Golden Notebook

Books

May 25, 2017

Emotional trauma

December 15, 2016

books2

A life in the day

December 10, 2016

books1