Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Unread novelists and long-lost typewriters

Garrison Keillor's Writer's Almanac says today, "It's the birthday of novelist Brian Moore, born was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland (1921). Not many people have read him, but he's considered by literary critics to be one of the most influential novelists of the 20th century. Three of his books have been short-listed for the Booker Prize, but none of them have won. When he died a decade ago in Malibu, his obituary in the LA Weekly began, "THE MOST ACCOMPLISHED AND LEAST fashionable writer in Los Angeles died last week.""

Not many people have read him.  That seems a curious statement, since he was a reasonably prolific writer, with some 27 novels listed on the Wikipedia entry.  Not winning the Booker Prize doesn't necessarily make you an unread author - in fact a lot of people don't read Booker Prize authors for the very reason that they've won the prize.   It usually indicates they're way out, or supra-literary, or so innovative that there's little story to read.   All of which is as much of a generalisation as the statement 'not many people have read him.'  

Talking of being prolific, I sometimes wonder if writers are now more prolific because they use PCs, or laptops, or netbooks or the like.  I know I am, but whether being more prolific necessarily means you're a better writer is another matter.   Blog posting doesn't necessarily bring out the best in you, for starters, and that's where a huge amount of my writing is done these days.   There was a time when I wrote by hand, though it's almost so long ago that I can't remember.   If my writing hasn't been done on a keyboard, it's been done on a typewriter - I taught myself to type almost as soon as I could earn enough money to buy a typewriter.   And a great thundering thing it was too.   Sometime later I bought a portable one, about half the size, and probably less than half the weight.  It was a great little job, but I have no idea what happened to it now - nor what happened to my first typewriter.   Perhaps I sold them....?   Who knows?
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