[Book] The tiniest remarks can spark in me the biggest desire to read something. In this case, it was reading through William Gibson’s blog (he’s back at it now his new novel, Zero History, is done*). He’s taking questions:
“From Mean Old Man:
Q Essays. You’re really, really good at those. I read a few of yours a while ago, and was lastingly impressed; Tokyo, watches, one about U2… How do those happen?
A Thank you. It was my first literary form. It was probably your first too. It can happen a number of ways. Ones that involve really expensive free plane tickets (Singapore, Tokyo, say). Ones that involve being asked to consider things I’m peculiarly interested in at the time (the eBay watch one). Ones where I feel honored to have been asked (the centenary of Orwell’s birth) though in some cases I’ve declined out of feeling unworthy. (I declined to write an obituary for Wm. S. Burroughs, but mainly because he was still alive at the time, and believed in magic.) It’s not an activity I actively seek out, much, and if asked (and I’m not asked, that often) I more often decline.
Q And who do you consider to be superior essayists, living or dead, worth reading?
A Orwell comes to mind, of course, but those are classic formal essays. The various parts of something like Iain Sinclair’s Lights Out For The Territory *behave* in some ways like essays, and are brilliant, but do various un-essaylike things as well.”
So welcome to South East London’s biggest pile of unread books, Lights Out For The Territory.
* And in a recursive manner, this is a recommendation that also recommends itself, for like all new Gibson books, I will read Zero History.