Books, Writing & Young Readers

‘You sound critical.’
‘ I am only pointing to the obvious. If he hadn’t wasted so much of his life correcting students’ grammar and sitting through boring meetings, he might have written more, perhaps even bwritten better. But he was not a child. He knew what he was doing. He made his choice.’
‘On the other hand, being a teacher allowed him contact with a younger generation. Which he might not have had, had he withdrawn from the world and devoted himself solely to writing.’

Interesting point in that last sentence. Wonder how current writers maintain contact with the younger generations. Or is that another reason why the younger generations have given up on reading books for leisure, with the exception of fantasy genre – the writers are so out of touch with them they can’t relate to any bit of the books.

Why write?

A conversation about writing books, from the book ‘Summertime’ by J.M. Coetzee:

‘Do you really believe that? That books give meaning to our lives?’
‘Yes. A book should be an axe to chop open the frozen sea inside us. What else should it be?’
‘A gesture of refusal in the face of time. A bid for immortality.’

There’s more: though it drags a little, I like the way it ends (after the break)

Continue reading Why write?

Why the bookstore chains are dying

Two of my favourite authors have published new books this year and I’ve been waiting to read them for some time. The books:

Last man in the tower by Arvind Adiga, and
River of Smoke by Amitava Ghosh

I ventured into the Waterstone’s store 100m from my house with an intention to buy the books. They had only the hardcover versions (expected) priced at £20 & ~£18. I wasn’t willing to pay that much for the books. Checked a few other books around, paperbacks all. None was cheaper than £7.99. Didn’t like anything much, so walked out.

Came home and checked on Amazon – the £18 book was priced at £8.99 while the £20 book was available for £11.99 – new copies in hardcover. Immediately ordered the £8.99 book and added the other to wishlist for ordering after I’ve finished the current book and the ordered one. By then that book may be available in paperback too.

P.S.: If the chain bookstores, with their scale, centralised buying and logistics networks can’t come close to competing with Amazon, how can the little, standalone guys survive? And frankly, I’ll miss the small, standalone neighbourhood bookstores a lot more than the likes of Borders and Waterstones

‘Oh, come on, at your age the glass is …

‘Oh, come on, at your age the glass is half full.’
‘No, it’s at your stage that the glass is half full. At my age we don’t want half a glass, full or empty. In fact we don’t want a glass, end of. We want a tankard and we want it overflowing. We are the have-everything generation, remember.’
‘No, we’re the have-everything generation.’
‘Well we’re the pissed generation then.’

The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson

‘I suspect you’re thinking of Pascal,…

‘I suspect you’re thinking of Pascal,’ Finkler said, finally. ‘Only he said the opposite. He said you might as well wager on God because that way, even if He doesn’t exist, you’ve nothing to lose. Whereas if you wager against God and He does exist…’

‘You’re in the shit.’

‘I wish I’d said that.’

‘You will, Finkler.’

The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson