Monday, March 02, 2009

"It would be mad, unnecessary"

At the Guardian, Alison Flood reports on M. J. Hyland's interview of Colm Toíbín:
"I write with a sort of grim determination to deal with things that are hidden and difficult and this means, I think, that pleasure is out of the question. I would associate this with narcissism anyway and I would disapprove of it."

Toíbín said he hadn't enjoyed writing any of his books, from his debut The South to his two Booker-shortlisted novels The Blackwater Lightship and The Master. "After a while [writing is] not really difficult, but it's never fun or anything. With a few of the books, especially The Heather Blazing and The Master and the new novel Brooklyn, there has been a real problem in not having a sort of breakdown as I worked on a particular passage," he said. "I don't want to go on about this too much, but there is a passage in each of those books which I found almost impossible to write and then harder and harder to re-write. I hope never to have to look at those passages again.["]


  1. Oh my god. I feel this way more and more too. In fact, I am deeply suspicious of anyone who says they "love to write."

  2. Julie, I'm not sure Toibin is talking seriously. To me it sounds as though he's often sending up the interviewer, albeit subtly.

  3. Faulkner said writing a novel is like being a one-armed man trying to nail together a chicken coop in a hurricane. I wonder if Toibin is either a) kidding b) not trying hard enough c)finds it easy to nail together chicken coops in hurricanes.

  4. I'm not sure why it would seem inconceivable that he could be even partly serious. Perhaps most people want to disavow that sort of relationship with writing.