Tuesday, 3 February 2015

"A Fine and Private Place" - Peter Beagle - "So Called Realists" - Ursula K. Le Guin

I think this could so easily be a manifesto for those who subscribe to inventive writing. I also feel it beautifully describes the work of the author Peter Beagle whose book, 'A Fine and Private Place' receives an appreciation below ...

"So Called Realists" - Ursula K. Le Guin

"Right now, I think we need writers who know the difference between the production of a market commodity and the practice of an art. Developing written material to suit sales strategies in order to maximize corporate profit and advertising revenue is not quite the same thing as responsible book publishing or authorship.
Yet I see sales departments given control over editorial; I see my own publishers in a silly panic of ignorance and greed, charging public libraries for an ebook six or seven times more than they charge customers. We just saw a profiteer try to punish a publisher for disobedience and writers threatened by corporate fatwa, and I see a lot of us, the producers who write the books and make the books, accepting this. Letting commodity profiteers sell us like deodorant, and tell us what to publish and what to write.
Books, you know, they’re not just commodities. The profit motive often is in conflict with the aims of art. We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art—the art of words.
I have had a long career and a good one. In good company. Now here, at the end of it, I really don’t want to watch American literature get sold down the river. We who live by writing and publishing want—and should demand—our fair share of the proceeds. But the name of our beautiful reward is not profit. It’s name is freedom."

"A Fine and Private Place"

Nowadays this very fine yet no longer private book would be classed as 'magic realism' a term used by those embarrassed, for reasons known only to them, as a substitute for what in reality is fantasy. Of course, all fiction is fantasy. If it weren't then it would be called biography or history or science. Fiction is where reality meets with the mundane in an attempt to appear believable. Some strive for grim, gritty realism but by doing so only extend the role of fiction further. Elements of the supernatural and the fantastic were part and parcel of literature from its beginning. There is nothing to feel inferior or, conversely, superior about liking fantasy. It is the breath by which life was breathed into story telling. You might not like dragons and wizards, and there is none present here, but please do not redefine a thing which has existed as long as people have gathered to read and listen to stories being told just for the sake of your blushes or ego.

This is a novel, the like of which we should all applaud if a little belatedly, that extends fantasy into the realms of the natural by way of its implicit characterisation. There is not one, not the Raven who saunters in when not crash diving into the tale, person who outlives their usefulness in taking a story, by the strength of their own characteristics, and delivering it so well into our laps.

It is a book, written in 1960, that exceeds it sell by date by decades. It is a book that should be read every now and then as it shores up our failing, faltering trust in ourselves, in what we perceive as being good about ourselves.

Mrs. Klapper is a major work of fiction. She may live life as though she is a stereotype but plenty of Jews do that and often with huge comic implications. Her speeches are the stuff of legend; filled with put downs and praise that no one apart from someone of that faith, of that persuasion could do. Her love for her deceased husband never fails even if her love of Mister Rebeck is second to none. I guess it is a love of necessity but even so none the less for it.

"Vey," she says time again when one word can do what a sentence, a paragraph can do.

Mister Rebeck, that doubting Thomas of the show, has heart and soul even though he cannot see it. His love of both Michael and his love for  Laura is immense, immeasurable. His courage in the face of the ultimate outcome of Michael, condemned by the Catholic faith, is something else.

This a book you should purchase if able from Waterstones. If not them then the local charity shop. If not them the borrow it from the library. Whatever you do, read it. It really is that good.

Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.

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