Archive for October, 2010
by George Orwell.
At the Writer’s Fest this year I went to the Penprick of Conscience panel discussion, with writers Karen Connelly, Deborah Ellis, Steven Heighton, and Larry Scanlan. It was a great discussion on the topic of personal and political engagement in the act of writing, lots of interesting points made, and amazing stories told.
Karen Connelly described her time in Burma and how she spent time living in a house that happened to have a number of George Orwell books in its library, including his novel Burmese Days. She read and re-read the books, comparing Orwell’s experiences in Burma with her own. She also read his essay Why I Write. She quoted from that essay,
What I have most wanted to do throughout the past ten years is to make political writing into an art. My starting point is always a feeling of partisanship, a sense of injustice. When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, “I am going to produce a work of art.” I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing.
Connelly reminded me of how much I admire and appreciate Orwell. These words are invigorating to me because I feel like I have the same initial motivation to write - even though it is unfashionable to say so in our age, when writing that is not purely literary in its intention is looked at with suspicion, if not scorn. It’s comforting to know that I’m not alone and I feel some kinship with the great man.
Now, back to my brand new copy of Orwell’s A Collection of Essays (including Why I Write)…
by Raymond Carver. Short story master.
Bleak, spare, and gripping. Alcoholism a persistent theme (he wrote what he knew). Possibly not the best reading if you’re already feeling a little down.
Before Cathedral I picked up, by mistake, The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler. Very different, despite the prevalence of booze in both.
The Solitaire won an honourable mention in the 2010 Niagara Branch of the Canadian Authors Association Annual Short Story Competition and was published in their annual anthology. The book launch took place in the Mills Room at the St. Catharines Public Library on 54 Church Street on Saturday, October 2.
For more information about the contest and how to obtain a copy of the anthology: http://www.canauthorsniagara.org/Resources/ShortStoryContest.html
Click the following link to read the story:
by Julian Barnes.
This is the first work by Barnes I’ve read. It’s a collection of loosely connected short stories and essays, each written in a different style. I didn’t always understand what he was getting at, but it was a very entertaining read. And some of the writing is very impressive, something to aspire to. I’m looking forward to reading more Barnes, probably Flaubert’s Parrot.
by Paul Auster.
A peculiar, but enjoyable, read. I can’t say I really understood what was going on in this novel, but I found the story well told and I was propelled along by the narrative. I was thorougly impressed by Auster’s New York Trilogy when I read it and I remember it being similarly mystifying.