Thursday, March 30, 2006

Christine Brooke-Rose

is someone I've always been interested in but have only read one or two books by, this essay by Frank Kermode at the London Review of Books reminds me she might be worth a good look sometime in the nearish future. I have been thinking a lot about style and fiction recently--I am too lazy to write anything serious about realism and experimental fiction, I feel that a lot of what you see people saying around the place is rather tedious and unimaginative--I am strongly drawn to certain kinds of experimental writing (I am in love with Perec) but I've got very mixed feelings about it as well. Because mostly (with a very few exceptions) what I really want are character- and voice-driven fictions and a lot of the more experimental stuff is full of lovely sentences but is not what I am actually going to sit down and read. The best thing is when you get a book (Peter Temple's are a good example of this) that is immensely and stringently stylish at the sentence level and yet wholly satisfactory in terms of character and story as well.

(And while I'm on the subject of experimental writing, I must confess that I just had a huge splurge this afternoon at the Harvard Bookstore, I found out slightly out of the blue that I must spend the rest of this year's research money in the next week or else lose it and I went and got a ton of work-related and also not-quite-so-work-related stuff including--oh, I am so excited, I really thought it was too expensive & I couldn't justify it, but I took the plunge because of this spend-now-or-lose circumstance--the Grove Centenary Edition of Samuel Beckett.)

The Montreal conference was great, I didn't get to see much of the city but what I did see was lovely (I hope I can go back sometime) and the quality of the Shakespeare/18th-century papers was extremely high; I think my favorites were the ones by Joe Roach (who is writing an amazing book called It that I want to read right now--his paper was "The It-Bard" and was one of the most interesting and exciting and moving things I have ever heard, this is going to be an exceptional book), Peter Holland and Margreta DeGrazia, but everything was really good. Now I must get properly back to work, but it was an enjoyable interlude with lots of intellectual stimulation.


  1. What's the worst book you've ever read?

    And do you know of any really bad books by otherwise great writers?

  2. Jenny! I was going to email you about this, but thought I'd post here — there's a fine piece by Ali Smith in the new (well, very recent) TLS on Christine Brooke-Rose...the piece also features a nifty illo of CB-R sitting and grinning before a sort of 3-D cutout of her name and some variants — ROSE also forms SORE and EROS. (TLS is really my making my day these days, so much excellent stuff — another recent favorite was about a correspondence Graham Greene once had with a fellow Henry James fan he met on a plane — I'm neither a particularly devout Grahamite nor a dues-paying Jamesian, but this was just a delightful piece.)

  3. Hi Jenny, you might like to know that we'll be launching a Christine Brooke-Rose minisite over on in just a few weeks time (and we've already launched our Beckett minisite). All best. Mark.