anyone read the book ?

I see Martin’s latest campaign is going well. Nice of Anna to help by venting in public. I’m sure it’ll move units. But can we agree that the important thing here is to allow everyone involved one of those acting-out opportunities that grow so precious & fleeting with age ?

Reading: Second Nature by Michael Pollan. Pollan, a bland & readable gardener, claims to have found–or at least to be seeking–a “compromise” between managed & unmanaged outdoor space, but guess what, his intent is to defend the gardener’s view of nature (ie, that it’s best not left natural) against the view of the naturalist; his greatest fear is “the evident speed and force and thoroughness” with which the forest can erase “virtually every human mark”; & his best line is “nature abhors a garden”. So no anthropocentric demonisation going on there, then, perish the thought.

Reviewing: Patricia Duncker’s The Strange Case of the Composer & His Judge.

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10 responses to “anyone read the book ?

  1. Dave

    Huh, Pollan wrote that? Well, I guess he may have come a long way since 1991. In his defense, he’s now doing some good work as a very vocal anti-agribusiness spokesman.

    Maybe we can let him duke it out with the corporados before we take him to task for being afraid of the woods?

    (By the way, I’m reading Robert MacFarlane at the moment. Good stuff. Thanks a lot for suggesting him here. Know any others who are writing similar stuff?)

  2. MikeM

    I am sure you are not expecting anything particularly insightful or responsible in reaction to the Ford vs Amis bash. With that self-deprecating preface, and the acknowledgement that I am under the influence slightly, I will simply make the following observations:

    I have never much liked the way Amis has appeared to be in the press; this may be through distortion, as he claims, or rather because he seems to me to pick the right fight for all the wrong reasons most of the time. I have never read any Amis. Can’t get over the reader’s block I seem to have for the Middle Class writer.

    Yet, Amis is a bloke, and I recognize a lot of his blokeish behaviour; apparent callousness – more the result of embarrassment than scheming – mixed up with a sentimentally driven hindsight mode; misplaced anger and frustration that are proffered self-redemption through a fiery sense of righteousness, rather than absolving by means of critical reflection; a pitiful, earnest romanticism that will fastidiously open the door for you to the route to self-destruction…I just think you could write about a large proportion of the UK male population in that way, and sound plausible.

    Ford is also nearly always angry, and reminds me of the main figure in Andorra – constitutionally welded to a defiant identification with a fiction about her origin and place in the scheme of things; I have seen her speak – she presents herself as controlled, articulate; subversively adopting the assured corporate tone to continue to push the revolutionary message of false consciousness everywhere else.

    There you go – I have had my own bit of acting out fun. Thanks Uncle Zip.

  3. uzwi

    Hi Dave

    >>Maybe we can let him duke it out with the corporados before we take him to task for being afraid of the woods?

    Totally. But have a look at Chapter 2 of Second Nature (weaselly title in itself, no ?), & you’ll see what I mean.

    On MacFarlane: I like Roger Deakin, who was to an extent MacFarlane’s mentor, lots. But I don’t think I’ve kept that light under a bushel here, either.

  4. uzwi

    Hi MikeM. My pleasure. You ought to read Money, though. It’s carnivorous, of just the blokes you mention.

  5. Erik

    hello mr. harrison —

    guardian just gathered up some writing rules (http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/feb/20/ten-rules-for-writing-fiction-part-one) from a collection of authors, and I was disappointed you weren’t on it, specially since you review for them.

    Philip Pullman said “My main rule is to say no to things like this, which tempt me away from my proper work,” and I figured you might be the same, but if not–?

  6. uzwi

    Hi Erik. I’m sorry you were disappointed. Celebrity is what sells newspapers, especially the culture pages of newspapers. As for being a reviewer, that’s not really a qualification: a cat may look at a king, but you don’t choose the cat when you’re looking for someone to open the Houses of Parliament.

  7. Kralin

    I stopped reading M Amis after ‘The Information’. However both ‘The Rachel Papers’ and ‘Money’ are worth a look. ‘Dead Babies’ is a bit New Wavey in places, and quite funny.

  8. Martin M

    “Take something to write on. Paper is good.” Wish I’d thought of that. Gaiman seems the most down to earth; Leonard repeats Hemingway’s guide lines, which are fine if you’re dealing with Hemingway’s reality. As for his first rule – well, there go “The Tempest” and “1984,” to name but two.

    Meanwhile, Anna chases Amis round Hampstead village pond. Does anyone care about Little Mart’s forgotten tears or (yawn) how he once behaved towards his godchildren? Will this make anyone rush out and buy “Pregnant Window,” or whatever it is? I wonder.

    Reading: “The Man Without Qualities,” which shows Amis (and nearly everyone else) has a lot still to learn.

  9. I enjoyed Pregnant Widow – not much happens & it could have been twice the length; some great set pieces, one liners, & observations on male behaviour. Worth a read.

  10. Martin M

    Meanwhile, they’re still queuing at the chip shop of human souls:

    “Your new novel- can I get scraps with that?”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/feb/25/anna-ford-martin-amis-christopher-hitchens

    – No, I couldn’t give a toss, either.