We decided to go and see La Soirée on the South Bank. If I’d visited something like this when I was fifteen I would probably have joined the circus, or at least done something physical a little differently. Yes, there’s always been an aspiration to live life not as an idea (Frank O’Hara: ‘If someone’s chasing you down the street with a knife you just run, you don’t turn around and shout, “Give it up! I was a track star for Mineola Prep’); and there have been many hours on a cricket field flinging a ball as fast as I can and hitting it as hard as I can … but what would it have been like to do a back flip when I was fifteen and still do one yesterday? I like the feeling of doing things far more than I enjoy thinking about them. Hell would be forever thinking.
There was a time, after my sister’s revelation that Santa didn’t exist and that there was in fact nothing magical about Christmas, when this time of year only ever felt disappointing. I don’t think I really believed in any of it – only in my parents’ ability to stage things properly. It wasn’t what my sister said as much as how my mother replied that did the damage: she said my sister was right, looked sad, things never felt even vaguely similar again … and in some way related to this kind of thing I ended up writing novels. Continue reading
It’s a small distinction, but one that always feels very important to me: that it’s possible to write ‘about’ or simply to write. Writers I like, even when they are writing about a specific subject, seem to be doing something that conjures up all kinds of magic in me. People who write about a novel, for example, seem to be doing something the author never intended to do … they thematise, explain and elucidate. People who write may begin with, for example again, the subject of a novel, and of course they may elucidate, but what seems to happen in their writing is unpredictable, almost alive, and allows me to experience something other than the novel itself – its bones or whatever might be left after they’ve picked over it. Continue reading