Page Fright: Foibles and Fetishes of Famous Writers
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
A witty round-up of writers' habits that includes all the big names, such as Dickens, Flaubert, Tolstoy, Hemingway
At public events readers always ask writers how they write. The process fascinates them. Now they have a very witty book that ranges around the world and throughout history to answer their questions. All the great writers are here — Dickens, dashing off his work; Henry James dictating it; Flaubert shouting each word aloud in the garden; Hemingway at work in cafés with his pencil. But pencil or pen, trusty typewriter or computer, they all have their advocates. Not to mention the writers who can only keep the words flowing by writing naked, or while walking or listening to music — and generally obeying the most bizarre superstitions.
On Shakespeare’s works: “Fantastic. And it was all done with a feather!” — Sam Goldwyn
“I write nude, seated on a thick towel, and perhaps with a second towel around me.” — Paul West
“I’ve never heard of anyone getting plumber’s block, or traffic cop’s block.” — Allan Gurganus
“I’m a drinker with a writing problem.” — Brendan Behan
From the Hardcover edition.
sometimes drunk, and his house, which had no running water, infested with cockroaches and lice. It was here that he’d been born and that Sonya, with little help from him, reared their thirteen children. In view of her crushing load of domestic responsibilities — and his fanatical revising of everything he wrote — her copying services verged on the superhuman. Wearing a grey smock and slurping tea, he worked alone in an ample ground-floor study, but Sonya completed his monumental copying
Conversation with Kenzaburo Oe.” Institute of International Studies, UC Berkeley, April 16, 1999. “The Art of Criticism No. 2: George Steiner.” Interviewer, Ronald A. Sharp. PR, Winter, 1995. “The Art of Fiction No. 4., continued: Irwin Shaw.” Interviewers, Willie Morris, Lucas Matthiessen. PR, Spring, 1979. “——No. 11: Nelson Algren.” Interviewers, Alston Anderson, Terry Southern. PR, Winter, 1955. “——No. 35: Simone de Beauvoir.” Interviewers, Bernard Frechtman, Madeleine Gobeil. PR,
poems, novels, and books of literary, cultural, and philosophical criticism and composed his work on “very old-fashioned typewriters.” He said, “I tend to type single-space on those huge sheets, badly typed without any attention, often even to paragraphing. This is the first, naively typed, brute output…. So in a funny way, my rough draft is a single-spaced, typed scribble on foolscap…. I walk up and down the room like a deprived mother hen when I do not have that odd size of paper which somehow
privacy.” In as much solitude as she could possibly arrange for herself, she spent eighteen years writing the 1,200-page Miss Macintosh, My Darling (1965). It inspired Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., to describe Young as “unquestionably a genius,” and Norman Mailer to call her “a gentle Hercules in high heels.” “I prefer to get up very early in the morning and work,” said Katherine Anne Porter, whose collected short stories (1965) won both the Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award. “I don’t want to speak
writing on the roll. I hunted for the right café in Rome and, when I found it, I worked there all the time…. The great pleasure of the book was that it came easily. All I had to do was be there with buckets to catch it.” A single mother, unemployed, living on state benefits, J.K. Rowling sat in cafés in Edinburgh and, whenever her baby Jessica fell asleep in a stroller, wrote a few more sentences of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (1997). By 2004, that book, and the Harry Potter volumes