Tuesday, February 21, 2006

An obituary for Sybille Bedford

in the Guardian: "One remembers a sturdy, trousered figure, bright blue eyes, effective and observant, the clipped voice quickening at an ungenerous remark or deference to some fashionable fraud. Always she treasured 'that sense of lighter heart, deep-grooved pleasures, daylight and proportion'. Her memoir, Quicksands (2005), revived interest in the writer, and her elegant, insightful work. Sybille Bedford, novelist and writer, born March 16 1911; died February 17 2006." I really love Bedford's writing, this will prompt me to go and get all her books from the library and read them through again (and I haven't read the memoir yet, either). She is a remarkable writer; Alan Hollinghurst had a great essay about her last summer in the New York Review of Books, not online I think, but here was my post about it.

Bedford notwithstanding (I think I can make an exception), my real resolution is not to let any more books into my house that I have no immediate plans to read for work or pleasure. Usually I unscrupulously accumulate books and do not worry about buying new ones when I haven't read all the ones I have already, but the temporary nature of my current circumstances mean that I must start reading up the things I have, as you might eat up the canned food in the cupboards before a move. I've got three more months here--that sounds blissfully short!--twelve and a half weeks--something like ninety days which is good because that means I will get a lot of work done before I go. But I must read some of these library books and return them, and read and then give away the books I've bought. My father kindly helped me move up here and will drive me and my stuff back down to New York when the time comes, but it was a pretty tight fit in his Golf GTI coming up here and it will not be good if I'm trying to fit in a lot more books. So I am due a period of stringent book-consumption; I've also got a lot of work reading to do in the next couple months, I'll post the occasional quotation from that stuff that I think may be of broader interest but it is possible that reading-related posting may be lighter than usual for the next little while. Hard to say, really.

1 comment:

  1. I am really saddened by how few people know about Sybille Bedford considering her formidable literary status. I think she's one of those writers who has never been read enough - even when she was on the Booker shortlist. I was shocked to go in to Borders to try and order her (opaque) autobiography to find that it wasn't in stock, hadn't been ordered and they only had one of her novels in. She's one of the greats and a writer who mapped one of the most fascinating eras in history with pin-point clarity.