Private: Criticism, more

Novelist Doris Lessing has accused Britain’s Tony Blair “of being a ‘fantasist’ and of ‘running around like a little rabbit’ to please the Americans.”

Myron Magnet, for City Journal, discusses the importance of literature and issues a sort of jeremiad against literary critics:

The critic’s job now is not to dive down to the heart of the truth the author had grasped and explain to a new generation of readers how it applies to lived experience; he is to unmask the author’s imposture, to reveal how the author, unconscious himself of his actual motives and blind to the reality he purports to illuminate, really is a kind of lackey, devoid of the critic’s keen ability to see that the social relations, conventions, and beliefs that the author celebrates as humanizing and civilizing man in reality do exactly the opposite, constraining and diminishing him. To these critics, the truth of literature has become its falsehood; the author, however great, is merely the gullible propagandist of one or another tyranny.

For all that, the literate public has kept on reading literature, whose great works will still be there to instruct and inspire mankind long after the works of that angry, arrogant, and obtuse generation of critics have turned to dust.

(Via A&L Daily.)

Chuck Palahniuk now has an audio blog on his site. (Via Bookslut.)

For the BBC’s ongoing series on how cities inspire authors, Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk writes about Istanbul:

In western cities the sound of the subway or metro is very particular and it stays in your spirit and whenever you hear it in a film, suddenly all the memories of the city wake up in you.

In Istanbul it’s the “vvvvoooooot” – sirens of the boats, the “chck” from the chimney, waves of the Bosphorus hitting the quays along with the seagulls and old-fashioned little boats – “putu putu putu” kind of thing.

(Via Moorish Girl.)

See also: Romesh Gunesekera, a Sri Lankan novelist, on Colombo, and Lawrence Block on New York City.

The ethics of translation. (Via Wood S Lot.)

Also via Wood S Lot: an interesting piece on Samuel R. Delany:

He can without question be called the world’s foremost gay African-American science-fiction writer. But there are those who would argue that “gay” and “African-American” could be struck without affecting the veracity of the statement.

Born in Harlem in 1942 and married very young, Delany didn’t set out to write speculative/futuristic tales.

“I started out writing the world’s most realistic fiction,” he said, during a visit to San Diego, “or at least, what I thought was the world’s most realistic fiction, as a teenager. But I always liked reading science fiction, so when I was 19 I wrote a science-fiction novel (‘The Jewels of Aptor’), and it sold. So I wrote another one, and another one, and another and another.

Happy anniversary to the Literary Saloon.