The Art of Fiction was a famous essay by Henry James, from 1885. This blog is written by Adrian Slatcher, who is a writer amongst other things, based in Manchester. His poetry collection "Playing Solitaire for Money" was published by Salt in 2010. I write about literature, music, politics and other stuff. You can find more about me and my writing at www.adrianslatcher.com
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
My other blog's a Porsche
I've decided to set up a second blog for "downloads" of my writing, so the 2 poetry pamphlets "2004" and "The Question" can now be found here. I'll add a few older stories in time. A poem I wrote a year or so ago, called "1970" is in the latest edition of Scarecrow. I was going to write a poem about every year in the seventies, but for some reason forgot about that particular project as soon as I'd started it, so just the one poem. My computer sounds like its swallowed a goose, so I fear impending hard drive failure. Something's not right, anyway. It may well be possessed, since I've just tried to get to the Guardian website and it says "bad gateway." Yet I'm still able to listen to the live broadcast of Hoodlum Tribe, which I've caught the last 20 minutes or so of. It was a relief to go to the theatre last night, to see Terence Rattigan's "Separate Tables" at the Royal Exchange. It was well-performed and worked well in the space; but I have to say it's a play that doesn't really deserve a revival; the second half lacking the emotional bit of the first half, so much so, that it could almost have been two plays. Written in 1956 its a world away from the gathering storm of the Angry Young Men; and you can see why (a) they were needed and (b) why this kind of politely veiled emotion lost its pre-eminence. It's nearly 30 years since the Sex Pistols created the Manchester music scene through their gig at the Lesser Free Trade Hall, and I wonder if that paradigm shift is being somehow repeated by the MySpace phenomenon. The MySpace "chums" network is the equivalent of those late seventies musicians' collective spaces. And with Reason, broadband and Cubase its possible never even to need to meet. To keep up with the kids, I set up my own Myspace the other day. I've already got a Romanian goth who has signed up. Now, I'm scared.
Posted by Adrian Slatcher at 3:33 PM
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Interesting (or not!) that the Royal Exchange should put on this show. I passed through the foyer last Saturday while the crowds were gathering for the matinee, and (without wanting to sound ageist) it really was the blue rinse set. When I went there to the recent revival of Tom Murphy's angry and violent A Whistle in the Dark the audience was so small those of us in the gallery got invited down to the expensive seats. Moribund theatre indeed.
In The Art of Fiction, Ayn Rand discusses how a writer combines abstract ideas with concrete action and description to achieve a unity of theme, plot, characterization, and style--the four essential elements of fiction. She explains how the seemingly causeless phenomenon of literary "inspiration" is a function of a writer's conscious thinking; how to develop a voice of one's own ("You cannot borrow another man's soul, and you cannot borrow his style"); and why all works of fiction -- from great literature to detective stories -- express a specific code of values ("Every writer is a moral philosopher"). Here, too, are Ayn Rand's illuminating sentence-by-sentence analyses of passages from writers like Victor Hugo and Thomas Wolfe, illustrative rewrites of scenes from her own works, and fascinating rules for building dramatic plots and characters with depth.
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