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Monday, 15 June 2009

Good News . . .

My short review of Victor Pelevin’s ‘The Sacred Book of the Werewolf’ appeared in Saturday’s Guardian Review. I could have written much more on this rather forced work of fiction. There is so much about it that is both equally terrible and brilliant. I have never read Pelevin before; although I am well read in the tradition that influences his work. I might look for more by him. Although, I good friend emailed me over the weekend to inform me that he has never been able to finish any of Pelevin’s novels. Which got me thinking: I used to always finish books that I don’t get on with; I’d struggle through them, either bored or completely furious, thinking to myself: ‘Okay, you have to finish this, you have to finish this …’ Now, though, it’s a different matter altogether, if I don’t get along with a book then it is quietly put down and never picked up again. I think Time has a lot to do with this, my perception of it, my thinking about it: Time seems to escape me these days. There simply is not enough of it, especially when reading fiction that does nothing for me.

Good news: Noah Cicero’s novel ‘The Insurgent’ is out via BLATT Books very soon. This is always a good thing. Cicero is the real thing. To me he is a pure writer, he simply writes, he writes all the time, his books matter and he NEVER compromises.

Everyone should read Noah Cicero. Start with The Human War (a very important book (I reviewed it aeons ago for RSB)), accept his pared down, machine-gun patter prose, go with it – every word is worth it. I think what I admire in a writer like Noah Cicero is that he would write anyway, even if he wasn’t a published author, he would continue to write all his life regardless, because writing, somehow, is life. It got me thinking about this quote from Thomas Bernhard [deposited into my brain via Steve Mitchelmore at This Space]:

“Writing delights me. That's nothing new. That's the only thing that still supports me, that will also come to an end. That's how it is. One does not live forever. But as long as I live I live writing. That's how I exist. There are months or years when I cannot write. Then it comes back. Such rhythm is both brutal and at the same time a great thing, something others don't experience.”

I like to think that that is also how a writer like Noah Cicero exists; through writing; existing to write; writing to exist – and all the other bits in-between, of course.

I have a difficult relationship with writing. I didn’t realise I had until I read Maurice Blanchot and Samuel Beckett. Although I have always been aware of Heidegger’s notion: why is there something rather than nothing? (the question which both Blanchot and Beckett try to address in writing) For a long time I never really connected this to writing in any way shape or form. Blanchot and Beckett unlocked a newer understanding of this (writing and being). Writing, you see, I find the whole thing very tiring. I am at my happiest when the writing is finished. Though, there is something in the build-up to writing: when it springs from the depths, the darkness, up into the conscious mind, where it remains, swimming around there day in day out, at night in my dreams, when I awake, sitting on the bus, or walking down the street . . . and that beautiful urge to write it all down consumes me. Because if I don’t I might lose this urge, these things might sink back down, never to resurface. And it’s that which compels me, the fear of losing this explosion within me. I feel I need to try and capture it as best I can. I like that part. But the physical act, this, the typing, the stringing the words together, moving the black lines across the page, fills me with a kind of terror that is hard to describe. The terror induced by the slide, the fear of things slipping back down to where they came from.

All this, of course, means that I have to write, that writing is me, more that just part of me. I suppose I write because I have been given a system, a method of doing this, something that isn’t mine and never will be: language. So, from wherever this all springs from these given words have to be written.

But, this doesn’t mean that writing is the most important thing in my life. It’s not. It couldn’t be. How can it be? There is so much more to life than this.


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