Artist imitates his own art

April 18, 2012

I loved this strange, surreal, exotic story in the FT: news (news to me) that renowned Turkish author Orhan Pamuk has founded a museum based on his novel The Museum Of Innocence.

I haven’t read this novel – I’ve read a couple of his others and even blogged about one of them – but still found the Nobel laureate’s decision to create a museum in homage to his character’s own – which in the book is a museum dedicated to the objects and items that his departed lover touched – thrillingly odd:

A vitrine of salt shakers by the stairwell commemorates Kemal’s dinners there. Prominent is a dress she purportedly wore when Kemal seduced her. “That’s the closest we get to her,” Pamuk murmurs, as though of an acquaintance. There are sprawling collections of earrings, hairclips and matchboxes, purloined in Kemal’s “ritual of consolation”, and odd objects from a broken porcelain heart to a toy tricycle.

It’s a nostalgic museum, Pamuk says – to no surprise to anyone who’s read anything he’s written – and as much a celebration of life in Istanbul as an installation encapsulating the novel’s key theme of lost love. If I ever get to visit Turkey – and I very much hope I will – then this will certainly be on my itinerary.


Margins: The Pickwick Papers (XIII)

April 13, 2012

For many years I swore I would never begin a new book without finishing the last. For some reason, my adherence to this rule came loose round about a year ago. It was probably the iPad’s fault, and more specifically a book that was too heavy (mass and subject matter both) for reading in bed.

Two media makes two books too easy, and it’s a slippery slope from there on. Since then, as now, I have several on the go. In addition to Obama 08 campaign manager David Plouffe’s The Audacity to Win, at the moment I’m reading (on my new train journeys from Swindon to London and back) Cormac McCarthy’s Outer Dark, and when I get home: Bernard Crick’s bio of George Orwell, and – free on the iPad – the first on my Dickens odyssey.

One of the problems with reading Dickens, I suspect, is that it makes one painfully aware of how little in the world – fictive or otherwise – is new.

Take this, for example, from chapter thirteen of The Pickwick Papers, where Mr. Pickwick and comrades venture into the middle of an election day bunfight that, in its use of the Victorian equivalent of bumper stickers and t-shirts, feels surprisingly familiar:

‘We are pretty confident, though,’ said Mr. Perker, sinking his voice almost to a whisper. ‘We had a little tea-party here, last night—five-and-forty women, my dear sir—and gave every one of ’em a green parasol when she went away.’

‘A parasol!’ said Mr. Pickwick.

‘Fact, my dear Sir, fact. Five-and-forty green parasols, at seven and sixpence a-piece. All women like finery—extraordinary the effect of those parasols. Secured all their husbands, and half their brothers—beats stockings, and flannel, and all that sort of thing hollow. My idea, my dear Sir, entirely. Hail, rain, or sunshine, you can’t walk half a dozen yards up the street, without encountering half a dozen green parasols.’

Crisis of Blog

April 13, 2012

Oh dear, how very boring, look away now, I’m having an introspective moment, and this is a post about posting.

The problem is I’m torn between last year’s lofty ambition to begin a blog with a much stronger sense of coherent identity than I’ve managed in the past, and the fact that I am a hopelessly undisciplined blogger.

More charitably: blogging is supposed to be fun (isn’t it?) and I found that my self-imposed focus on one topic alone – even such a vast and varied one as US politics, and in an election year! – was starting to feel a little stifling.

And from an even more boring (boringly practical) point of view switching between two blogs all the time is still, however easy WordPress tries to make it, a pain in the bum for those of us who like things neat and tidy.

So: sod it, I’m still a Wannabe Yank, no doubt about it, but I’m going to post about whatever the hell I like. US politics and books, basically. And maybe a little music. YouTune, that was fun.

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