May 23, 2017

The Write Stuff and Dark Arts

Interesting article in the New York Times by movie director William Friedkin who was married to Jeanne Moreau when he first began retracing Proust's early steps. I intend on secluding myself for a couple months and reading all 7 installments of In Search of Lost Time. I've tried doing the audiobooks but it's far too subtle and complex to pull you in while driving.
*this pic was poached from Slim Paley who identifies the model (or is it designer?) as Karlie Kloss

Long absence so much to catch up on. First off a few books. John le Carre's wonderful memoir The Pigeon Tunnel is narrated (audiobook) by the master himself. Like P. G. Wodehouse and Patrick O'Brian, le Carre' has elevated his genre into the very highest rank of Literature.  I made the mistake of reading his magnum opus A Perfect Spy and beginning To Kill a Mockingbird the next day. Atticus Finch & Scout never had a chance so soon after inhabiting the fascinating interior life of Magnus Pym.

85 year old John le Carre' at his home in Penzance, Cornwall. GSL has been summoned to St. Ives, Cornwall this August (but might be delayed til next summer) so may have to arrange for a meet. He's still going strong and has a new novel out in September: A Legacy of Spies

Read Norman Mailer's The Spooky Art: Some Thoughts on Writing and came away slightly less impressed with Mailer although it was an interesting read. Mailer's magnum opus was Harlot's Ghost about the CIA that unfortunately didn't find the wide audience and critical acclaim it deserved.

Interesting to compare le Carre' and Mailer as both had massive international fame at an early age.  Mailer set out to become a prominent Public Intellectual while le Carre' kept a low profile and eschewed literary awards which Mailer craved.  It's become something of a joke that le Carre' freely acknowledges in the Pigeon Tunnel Introduction that he always resolutely proclaims, during an interview how he's a private man and this is the absolute last interview he'll ever do and blasts writers that always seek to dazzle while dining at High Table (was he thinking of Mailer?) when they should be secluded in their writing cabin.  A few of us noticed how le Carre' began these tantrums before doing about 5 extensive telly interviews, offering his biographer (the brilliant Adam Sisman) 40+ hours of recorded interviews, and then of course the memoir....and let's not forget that A Perfect Spy was hugely autobiographical. While hearing le Carre's reluctant admission, I couldn't help but think of a very talented writer I know who has shared more personal details than I know about my own mother or virtually anybody else while simultaneously proclaiming how private she is and then has reminded me how private she is...across 4 different social media platforms.  Like my talented friend, le Carre isn't really private but goes thru periods of craving solitude and has a few things he'd rather keep hidden or offer a more interesting account as biographer Sisman noted of a few Pigeon Tunnel anecdotes that had suddenly acquired a fresh polish....always a telltale sign of a first-rate creative mind.

Any thoughts on John le Carre', Norman Mailer, Proust, or any recent reads?