Monday, July 23, 2012

The Selection

I went to Blackwells this afternoon to buy a unit of fiction and I found choosing extremely difficult. I am always plagued with the feeling that the same book is being written over and over – a novel during wartime London; a tale of young women vying for the stage in the 1920s; an affair set in the present day; an old man remembering his first sexual experience; a historical romp beaded heavily with elaborate camp; stories of young male vagabonds whose consciousnesses disintegrate while walking the streets at night. Books on shelves – with their bright loopy covers and vibrant letters and bumptious puffs - seem to mean nothing. Perhaps this is a result of not reading contemporary fiction for so long. The hackneyed book news, the schools of fiction, the masters writing classes, review readers, Costa and Orange awards; what do they mean? It took me two trips and at least an hour of choosing and then discarding everything and clinging to Diego Marani’s Finnish Grammar and thinking At Last I Will Buy It. This is my raft. This will save me. And then tossing everything out to buy Andres Newman’s Traveller of the Century. It’s a Pushkin Press book, and was (sort of) endorsed by the late Roberto Bolano. Time will tell. Emily Dickinson needs a male companion.

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