Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Arbitrary book marks

José Saramago in interview (via comments left at Bookpuddle) on his new novel, Las intermitencias de la muerte (no publication date available for an English translation), the premise of which is "what would happen if we were eternal beings."
The truth is that I didn't intend to be humorous, it just came out like that. I have to confess that I enjoyed writing about a subject as serious as death, although we all know that we can't laugh much about death because it is death that ends up by laughing at us. We shouldn't think of death as an entity, a 'grim reaper' waiting outside for us, but something that is inside ourselves, that each one of us carries within, and that when our body comes to an agreement with it, then our lives end.

So not dying is a failure to recognize something essential within ourselves? My grandmother died at age 99, I think only because she'd finally decided to.

The Guardian on Paul Auster.
One view, especially common on this side of the Atlantic, is that he is an American writer of European descent ... "The book that convinced me I wanted to be a writer was Crime and Punishment. I put the thing down after reading it in a fever over two or three days ... I said if this is what a book can be, then that is what I want to do." He laments the declining interest in foreign fiction in America. "Are young people still reading Gide?" He calls this neglect "the great tragedy of American publishing. It's the way American culture has evolved. We've become very hermetic. We're not interested in others any more. It's hurt us politically and it's hurt us culturally. We've lost our taste for what I would call 'the exotic'."

That first sentence puzzles me — is that view wrong? What makes an "American writer"? I don't think Paul Auster will ever write "the great American novel." They mean, perhaps, he's descended from the European literary tradition, he's a European writer, but happens to be American.

From A Whistling Woman, by A.S. Byatt:
But always remember that one map of another man's thought always runs the risk of becoming a string of shortcuts between arbitrary landmarks.

A propos of nothing, authors I wish would write something else for me to read:
Mark Z Danielewski, who wrote House of Leaves (audio excerpts)
Glen David Gold, who wrote Carter Beats the Devil (excerpt)

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