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Comment from the book world in May 2007

May 2007

'The real nuts and bolts'

28 May 2007

'I never liked that tradition of post-feminist writing which is all celebrating periods and pregnancy. I'm much more interested in the real nuts and bolts of how women experience their bodies. Because that's how I feel I experience my body. I'm continually aware of have I got a blister, do I need to go to the loo, is my bra too tight - really mundane things like that which seem to be really bound up with my femininity. I know men must experience their bodies in similarly impressive ways.'

Sarah Waters, author of The Night Watch in the Independent on Sunday.

'The standard-bearers of Western culture'

21 May 2007

'Biographies have become the standard-bearers of Western culture, the lives by which we measure our lives. Once regarded as a second-rate genre, the work of flatterers or muckrakers, biography is now more popular than at any time in history...

Our curiosity to know how others live - from the interior of Tony Blair's mind to the content of Boris Johnson's fridge - is more inquisitive than invasive. We read, watch, eavesdrop and gossip about other lives, not because they are necessarily important or laudable, but because they are individually interesting, each providing a small window on human identity. Biography is not about burglary, but self-knowledge: the desire to know others we can never meet, and so to know ourselves a little better.'

Ben Macintrye in The Times

'This new literary democracy'

14 May 2007

'The idea that those of us who blog about books and reading might somehow be degrading literary taste is a patronising and ridiculous one... Those of us who belong to this new literary democracy write about all manner of books and cover a far wider range than the weekly book pages of the broadsheets and journals. How dare one of these 'literary mandarins' feel they are above us and, by implication, above book buyers and readers? We do it because we love books... and to demonstrate that the arrogant, lazy, stuck-in-the-mud, cliquey little set of literary editors and/or 'mandarins' is now almost totally irrelevant.'

Susan Hill, author and publisher, in her blog

Perfection in short stories and novels

7 May 2007

'As you start writing a short story there's the sense that perfection is just beyond your reach, that you could maybe scratch it with your fingernails on a really good day, and by perfection I mean everything cohering, every word counting, every word relating to every other word.'

Trying to do the same with novels: 'But in time it came to me that actually perfection is not the aim of a novel. The novel by its nature is baggier and looser, and more like life in that sense. I had to realign some part of my aesthetic to move from one form to another.'

Peter Ho Davies, author of The Welsh Girl in the Bookseller