The actor Greg Page reads the opening of my novel, Wild Ink, which is now available to buy in paperback and e-book from Dead Ink Books.
Sage advice from a character in Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood (Vintage, 2003):
[Nagasawa] was a far more voracious reader than me, but he made it a rule never to touch a book by any author who had not been dead at least 30 years. “That’s the only kind of book I can trust,” he said.
“It’s not that I don’t believe in contemporary literature,” he added, “but I don’t want to waste valuable time reading any book that has not had the baptism of time. Life is too short…
“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking. That’s the world of hicks and slobs.”
I get the feeling that Murakami may have been unpopular at school.
He makes an exception, this Nagasawa, for The Great Gatsby, whose author, at the time at which this conversation takes place in the book, has been dead for only twenty-eight years. Nagasawa’s response: “So what? Two years? Fitzgerald’s advanced.”
Among the writers that, by Nagasawa’s lights, we can all start reading in 2013 are Hideo Kobayashi, Arthur Koestler, Rebecca West, Jerzy Andrzejewski – oh, and Hergé. Something to look forward to.
I started today with one of those moments of false déjà vu that occur when, in reading a book you haven’t read before, you come across a passage that is dimly familiar.
A man who has decided upon self-destruction is far removed from mundane affairs, and to sit down and write his will would be, at that moment, an act just as absurd as winding up his watch, since, together with the man, the whole world is destroyed; the last letter is instantly reduced to dust and, with it, all the postmen.
From Nabokov’s The Eye (Panther, 1968). This is such an exceptional piece of writing that it would have stood out even if I hadn’t come across it before – but I had, in Martin Amis’s memoir Experience (Cape, 2000), where Amis discusses the suicide of Lamorna, the mother of his daughter Delilah.
‘The writer is the opposite of suicide,’ Amis concludes. Of suicide, he says: ‘It’s not in me to pass any judgment on it. It escapes morality.’