Saturday, February 21, 2004

I realize I haven't done any decent literary musing for days and days. When I was at the library last week, I picked up Dislocation: Stories from a New Ireland, a 2003 collection from Carroll and Graf. Not all the writers live in Ireland, though all are Irish. When I checked out the contributors, I was excited to see that most are of my vintage--born anywhere from the early 50s to the early 60s. The writers' bios include a history of their most significant published writings. I love it when contributors' lists are that detailed.

I'm not a huge fan of short stories, generally, though I do read several collections a year. Last year I was wild for A Few Short Notes on Tropical Butterflies by John Murray. His writing is so clear, so startling. He has a unique voice, which is so crucial to the success of a story. If you check the archives, I blogged about A Few Short Notes on October 7th. Check out the links there--I think there's an interview with Murray.

Conversations with American Women Writers is still by my side, though I'll have to return it to the library soon. I don't want to! The conversations are full of novelists' reflections on the writing process. I was interested to read about Lynn Freed, a writer from South Africa who now resides in the U.S. She's both a novelist and short-story writer; her most recent novel is The House of Women, a New York Times Notable Book from 2002. I drooled over her description of time spent at writers' retreats:

There is the blessing of peace in a retreat that happens to suit my fraught nature. I arrive in a place like Yaddo, and I sink immediately in a sort of peace from life that I seem to be able to find nowhere else. It has something to do with the way the spirit settles there, away from the noise of my life. But there is also the fact that one is both left alone and taken care of. There are the days in silence, to work, and then the evenings in the company of others who have been working. It is magic. I often write more there in a month than I do otherwise in six months, or more.

To my Auster fans, I am a third of the way through The Book of Illusions. Wowee--incroyable. Oh, dear. How's my French spelling?


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