Monday, June 25, 2007


my idea of a writer

i'm from an old school and believe that writers should just write but should not be seen and books should be judged on their own merit without the need for all the publicity circus that seems to be the norm these days. all these book readings , book signings , lit festivals and whatnots are at best harmless distractions and i am not too sure if they can really contribute any significant increase in sales or even do any good for the authors.

but seems that in this age of celebrity worship everybody seems to be anxious to get their 15 minutes of fame which even writers are not immune to. seems that there is quite a lively public reading scenes locally here which i have no problem whatsoever with , except that it rather perplexed me a bit as to why some budding or aspiring writers want to go and expose themselves to quite possibly an excruciating time reading snippets of their work in front of may be twenty or so audience (which is usually the case for an average reading) who probably come because it's free and don't particularly care too much about the poor readers' work in the first place.

as i say, i'm not really against any of these events and i would make an effort to attend if some famous writers or those i love come to this shore . i would even say that if salman rushdie is to come to malaysia (not very likely ) i'd be the first person to reserve a seat and i'd bring my satanic verses, midnight children, moor's last sigh and fury for him to sign. (and i won't be too unhappy if somebody breaks his fingers after that)....

i guess public reading is a good entertainment too in its own way although from a few local readings i attended i find it distracting and difficult to concentrate. and i guess there are many writers who love to be in the limelight these days and like to be treated like film stars and salman rushdie is one of them, the fatwa hanging on his neck notwitstanding.

but i must say that the writers i really find fascinating are those that shun publicity to the extent of being recluse and hermitic. can't think of too many writers who shun publicity and hence i was very pleasantly surprised to discover that cormac mcCarthy is one of the few living authors who avoid publicity and keep his life very private . in fact the only three famously reclusive authors that i'm aware of are american - the other two are JD Salinger and Thomas pynchon

i do not know anything about mcCarthy although i've heard about his pullitzer winner all the pretty horses . i only get interested in this author since a few months ago after reading that his book no country for old men was filmed by the great coen brothers to great critical acclaim (as most coen brothers films were) and selected as one of the best film nominees in 2007 cannes film festival (which unfortunately it didn't win). but even then it did not move me to read any of his books but today i read in bibliobibuli that he was interviewed by oprah !

oprah! i'm speechless! cormac mcCarthy coming out of recluse to be interviewed by that woman oprah! it gives me a very bad taste in my mouth...yes oprah is hugely popular and influential but what was mcCarthy doing messing about with an airhead? i detest oprah...she's the epitome of what is wrong with america...i can't stand watching her programme for two minutes without puking...but i could be wrong the last time i saw a few minutes of her show was probably fifteen years ago...yes she is very influential and hugely popular (in the US) , but so is fucking SHREK or yes, sophie fucking kinsella...

to think that he came out in public after all these years and after such a great write up from his last interview in the NYT in 1992 ! and to be hanging about with oprah? what was he thinking? (money?)

anyway, about that NYT piece. that's another example what great writing can do to you. after reading it , it moved me so, i immediately went to payless and bought suttree and child of god and would have bought other titles too if they were available...

excerpt from the NYT interview piece above...

McCarthy appreciates wildness -- in animals, landscapes and people -- and although he is a well-born, well-spoken, well-read man of 58 years, he has spent most of his adult life outside the ring of the campfire. It would be hard to think of a major American writer who has participated less in literary life. He has never taught or written journalism, given readings, blurbed a book, granted an interview.

McCarthy estimates that he owns about 7,000 books, nearly all of them in storage lockers. "He has more intellectual interests than anyone I've ever met,"

Child of God," published in 1973 after he and DeLisle returned to Tennessee, tested new extremes. The main character, Lester Ballard -- a mass murderer and necrophiliac -- lives with his victims in a series of underground caves.....

McCarthy has never shown interest in a steady job, a trait that seems to have annoyed both his ex-wives. "We lived in total poverty," says the second, Annie DeLisle, now a restaurateur in Florida. For nearly eight years they lived in a dairy barn outside Knoxville. "We were bathing in the lake," she says with some nostalgia. "Someone would call up and offer him $2,000 to come speak at a university about his books. And he would tell them that everything he had to say was there on the page. So we would eat beans for another week."

My boyfriend thinks the same too. He said that if a writer is good he or she need not huge publicity. People will go and look for his book or work no matter what and where.
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