Good morning. Carrie A.A. Frye here again. Maud is still in Madagascar. The opinions expressed here today are mine, not Maud’s.
For the next little while, I’m going to be looking at Ann Patchett’s memoir of her friendship with Lucy Grealy, Martin Amis’ Experience, and, more generally, memoirs and issues of self-exposure in a writer’s work. That’s the plan anyway — I might run out of time. The idea is to try to look at a book/author/genre from all kinds of angles.
A caveat, I’m a writer, and that affects how I read: I like to take apart books to see how they work or how they don’t work. Like a junior inventor disassembling an alarm clock. That might not be your bag. Also, I will say here it’s harder to do with living authors, after all it’s their baby you’re dissecting on the table — and I feel particularly aware of that with the Patchett book, as it’s a memoir of a well-loved friend and figure, written by a well-liked author. But I’m not interested in scoring shots — so put down your snark demerits — nor am I overly interesting in playing nice (I only shamelessly plug authors from Asheville, as they might have me over to their house). I just like studying what works in the writing, and the ripples a book makes in the mind and out in the world.
This is one of my favorite stories: A friend of mine was once enamored with this book by Heinrich Boll. I can’t remember which one. And eventually his girlfriend got jealous, because Rick was having so many conversations about Heinrich Boll with other people. (And maybe she was jealous, too, because she was a writer. Or because Rick had baited her. I don’t know: What matters is that this anecdote features the frequent repetition of the name Heinrich Boll.) And so she sat down in a chair in his skanky living room in Brooklyn and read the entire Heinrich Boll novel in a fury, all in one sitting. Telling me about it later, Rick was all reluctant admiration: “I’m telling you, she. read. the. fuck. out. of. Heinrich. Boll.” And that’s what as a reader I would like to do: Read the fuck out of a book.
I have to finish some stuff up at work and attend a fancy luncheon at which, I have just been told, I might have to address remarks to 30 strangers (what’s the word I’m looking for? oh yeah, “Crap!”) but then I’ll start posting on Truth and Beauty. In the meantime, I know there are lots of places you can visit, but I suggest Rake’s Progress be one of them. The boy/dude/Franzen manqué posted some funny stuff in the night.
Thoughts, suggestions and complaints should go to: caaf at maudnewton dot com.