Sunday, August 27, 2006


Here's a wonderful memoir-essay by journalist-novelist Andrew O'Hagan on reading and writing, which I found through Light Reading. An excerpt to show the flavor, both nostalgic and acerbic:
There weren't any books in our house apart from the Kilmarnock telephone directory, which had its uses (especially the Emergency pages). I once bought a children's encyclopedia in 10 volumes at a jumble sale for 50p, but one of my brothers wrecked each of the set by trying to cut a square hole through the middle pages so that he could use it as a stash for stolen matches. (He observed the technique in one of the James Bond films.) The books were in ribbons before I got to learn about the sun rituals of the Incas or the combustion process in a car engine.
I'm working on a short story, which seems like the strangest animal in the world after all the time I spent with the novel. Or like living in a small room after inhabiting Severance Hall. Or, or, or--


Anonymous bloglily said...

This is indeed a wonderful essay -- and he sounds like a really fine writer. Thank you so much for the link! And good luck with that short story. Best, BL

8/28/2006 1:38 AM  
Blogger Gina Ventre said...

I can remember wondering what it would be like to cut holes in books for the purposes of hiding things.

8/28/2006 9:04 AM  
Blogger lucette said...

BL--I ordered one of his books from the library after I read the essay--I'm looking forward to read ing him at length.
GS--I regret to say that I was somewhat fascinated by the James Bond books when I was a teenager.

8/28/2006 10:01 AM  
Blogger Erin O'Brien said...

The strangest animal in the world is my husband.

That guy could also have used the phone book to put on his lap before his girlfriend sat there.

An artist in Sweden sends me jewelry in a hollowed out book. Then I send him the book back, with cash payment in a nest of hershey kisses in hollow space.

It is not your fault that you know me.

8/28/2006 6:58 PM  
Blogger K-Oh said...

I love this essay! I'm smitten by it! There are so many wonderful parts, like this about church: "It was the stories that got us: life and death were inscribed there in luscious trails of perfumed smoke, or were written on the water in a strange and invisible and sensual hand." Thanks for tracking it down.

8/29/2006 8:16 AM  

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