Saturday, July 05, 2008

Writers aren't sports stars

Watching the Williams sisters compete in the Wimbledon final today, it was a rare moment when victory in sport would be tinged with sadness, and defeat tinted with pride. Usually in sport, its "winner takes all", the loser forgotten; but hardly possible when the winner and loser will be sharing Thanksgiving and Christmas together? I only mention this, in contrast to writing, which whilst also a pursuit of solitary excellence, hasn't got quite such an easy measure of "success" and "failure." "It doesn't matter what you think about your work," writes Anne Enright in short, perceptive piece in today's Guardian, the finished work is just as is, whether you thought it good or bad. In a completed story are the opportunity costs of all the roads not travelled. Enright is sceptical of poets who "just know" when something is right, putting it down to something melancholic in the poet's spirit.

Of the more melancholic poets, seeing Morrissey in Hyde Park yesterday cheered me up no end. An exemplarily chosen set, mixing Smiths songs, obscurities, solo hits and a wonderful Buzzcocks cover, ("You say you don't love me", turned into a Billy Fury-style piece of crooning, a massive hit, I reckon, if he ever releases it), Morrissey was not just in a good mood, and fine voice, but seemed at one with both his place - on stage, a showman - and his career, ranging all over the shop, with his fine band able to do justice to such rarely played songs as "Death of a Disco Dancer." How strange, that Beck, preceding him, and about to launch a new album, was so perfunctory, coming on like a curmudgeonly still-young Neil Young, with black hat, shades and coat. Last time I saw Beck - in about 2000 - he was an impish, glammy glittering uber-popstar, yesterday, despite a few flurries from his varied back catalogue, it felt like he was going through the motions.

And for some other points of view on the Amis religious debate blogged about below, try Fictionbitch, Richard Madeley, and even the Guardian. Read them all and pretend to your friends that you were actually there.

Finally, this year's national short story prize is having the shortlisted stories broadcast on Radio 4 next week. Still a little sceptical about identifying "best of breed" in this way, but pleased that two of the writers I met in Norwich last week, the established poet and novelist Adam Thorpe, and the Canadian short story writer, Erin Soros, are on the list.

1 comment:

Geoff said...

Thanks for putting paragraph breaks into your post! It makes such a difference to readability - please keep it up x