Saturday, February 28, 2009

A.J. Liebling on Proust's Appetite

The Proust madeleine phenomenon is now as firmly established in folklore as Newton's apple or Watt's steam kettle. The man ate a tea biscuit, the taste evoked memories, he wrote a book ... In the light of what Proust wrote with so mild a stimulus, it is the world's loss that he did not have a heartier appetite. On a dozen Gardiners Island oysters, a bowl of clam chowder, a peck of steamers, some bay scallops, three sautéed soft-shelled crabs, a few ears of fresh-picked corn, a thin swordfish steak of generous area, a pair of lobsters, and a Long Island duck, he might have written a masterpiece.
--from A.J. Liebling's Between Meals.

Also of interest: in Paris circa 1955, Liebling writes that he "received a note from Mirande by tube next morning ..." Anyone know what "by tube" means in this context?

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Ian McEwan on Not Being Understood by a Reader

Whereas in Black Dogs, the intellectual war is between equals, Joe Rose's logical mind clearly shows up that of his girlfriend, Clarissa [in the novel Enduring Love]. A Romantic scholar, she doubts his evidence that he is being stalked, and nearly ends up dead. McEwan remebers that not every reader accepted the point: "Poor Greg [McEwan's son] had to study Enduring Love in school. He had a female teacher. And he had to write an essay: Who was the moral center of the book? And I said to Greg, 'Well, I think Clarissa's got everything wrong.' He got a D. The teacher didn't care what I thought. She thought that Joe was too 'male' in his thinking. Well. I mean, I only wrote the damn thing."
--from the February 23, 2009 issue of The New Yorker, Daniel Zalewski's, "The Background Hum."

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