Thursday, 19 February 2009

I Don't Understand...

Radio 4 has struck lead again with its latest Book At Bedtime, which is nearing an end, thank heavens, but seems to have been running for ever. Called An Equal Stillness, it's a heavy-footed chronicle of the rivalrous relationship and marriage between two artists over many decades - a kind of fictionalised version of Barbara Hepworth and Ben Nicholson. Listening to it on the radio (abridged!), you can hear the research, but it seems - to me anyway - entirely lacking in what one might call, rather preciously, felt life. The writer never seems to inhabit either the characters or their world, leaving the listener - this one anyway - wondering why she bothered to invest the time and hard work required to write a full-length novel (and why anyone should invest their time in reading it). Most of my forays into contemporary fiction leave me with this So What feeling (which is why I make so few). And yet this book has been well received - 'an outstanding debut', 'pitch perfect', etc - and is just the kind of work that wins prizes; perhaps it already has. I truly do not understand the present world of fiction publishing and reviewing. It seems every bit as irrelevant, tail-chasing and detached from reality as the political world.

2 comments:

  1. Having written a full-length novel over 2 years, then spent 5 years editing it, i wonder how or why anyone would write a book. It takes forever to get it right. Some kind of madness is the only possible motivation.

    The worst thing is, having got the damn thing to the point where it's about 95% okay, i have no real interest in it and feel utterly disconnected from its concerns.

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