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Comment from the book world in April 2019

April 2019

'Ebooks made all of those old books immediate'

25 April 2019

‘Ten or 15 years ago, (literary estates) were dead. There were a few classic books that will always be with us, and the rest was dust. Then e-books provided the mechanism of making old things timeless - there was no such thing as backlist or frontlist any more. We, like a lot of people, worked hard and scrambled to make these book available again. Film and TV people have, let's say, quick attention spans. An idea floats into their minds, maybe about a book they read years ago, and if it's not available they are off to another idea. But e-books made all of those old books immediate, and that coincided with the rise of Netflix, Amazon, and all the other streaming services.'

Bill Hamilton, MD of the A M Heath Literary Agency, which celebrates its centenary this year, in the Bookseller

 

'Turning up'

18 April 2019

‘I'm a great believer in turning up still. No forgiving yourself because you are tired. I try to get there before 10, not too early. On those magical writing days you forget you exist and you surface an hour later and you have 400 words you were not expecting to write. But turning up is certainly the first condition. Work until lunchtime, listen to World at One, have a sandwich. Walk the dog. We have a very active sheepdog.'

Ian McEwan, author of Machines Like Me, The Children Act, Atonement, Amsterdam, Enduring Love, The Child in Time and many other celebrated novels in the Guardian

 

'Now I could write a real death, a true loss'

8 April 2019

'Whatever happened to me in my life, happened to me as a writer of plays. I'd fall in love, or fall in lust. And at the height of my passion, I would think, 'So this is how it feels,' and I would tie it up in pretty words. I watched my life as if it were happening to someone else. My son died. And I was hurt, but I watched my hurt, and even relished it, a little, for now I could write a real death, a true loss. My heart was broken by my dark lady, and I wept, in my room, alone; but while I wept, somewhere inside I smiled. For I knew I could take my broken heart and place it on the stage of The Globe, and make the pit cry tears of their own.'

Neil Gaiman, author of Adventures in the Screen Trade, American Gods, Neverwhere, The Sandman: Book of Dreams and 41 other books. http://www.neilgaiman.com/works/Books/

 

Memorable short stories

1 April 2019

‘An admirable line of Pablo Neruda's, "My creatures are born of a long denial," seems to me the best definition of writing as a kind of exorcism, casting off invading creatures by projecting them into universal existence, keeping them on the other side of the bridge... It may be exaggerating to say that all completely successful short stories, especially fantastic stories, are products of neurosis, nightmares or hallucination neutralized through objectification and translated to a medium outside the neurotic terrain. This polarization can be found in any memorable short story, as if the author, wanting to rid himself of his creature as soon and as absolutely as possible, exorcises it the only way he can: by writing it.

Julio Cortázar, Argentinian author of Hopscotch, A Manual for Manuel and 4 other novels, as well as 11 short story collections.