Friday, 14 September 2007

Correction

About a year and a half ago, I posted here that I thought Alias Grace was a pretty dreadful novel - won't embarrass myself by going into details. Thanks, if you read that post, for not reaching into the screen and administering a short sharp smack, because, obviously, I was completely and grotesquely wrong. Sorry, MA. I reread it in June in order to teach it again, and this time it was terrific. All I can come up with to account for how much I disliked it the first time around is that I had an undiagnosed case of masterpiece fatigue hanging over from the previous few months' reading.

About the time I reread AG I also read Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain, and enjoyed that a lot too. I actually jotted down a few pages of notes towards an article hanging off these two books and Saturday, and/or maybe Enduring Love, thinking about how contemporary novelists write about what people do when they work, and making a case for the strengths of historical fiction as a legitimate mode of thinking about history (pace E.L. Doctorow but contra I.C., whose intervention in that topic made me so angry I've resolved never to openly discuss it in any forum where I don't have the luxury of an editor for my own protection.) And then I found that the Atwood / Frazier / historical fiction cluster is already the subject of a couple of good, interesting published articles. So my notes went to the bottom of the drawer, along with the essay about hats in Elizabeth Gaskell's books that I've been "writing" since 1998 and the essay on pharmaceuticals in modern American novels that I've been "writing" for two years longer than that, an essay teasing out the implications of the seance chapters in Possession, and along with abandoned thesis chapters and a year's worth of writing about Hitchcock films that led me up a blind alley. Things go into this drawer, and so far, they don't come out.

As everyone who does it occasionally must, I seriously wonder what the point of producing academic criticism is. Every project is fun for a while. That's a point, possibly. But then, does anyone ever read what you've written? And if they do, why aren't they reading a novel instead? The idiotic exercise of totting up "rank" and "impact" for all your publications is enough to make you really not want to write them, also.

Well, it was good to have another go at Alias Grace. I would like to try writing a novel of my own: I've been thinking about a sort of autobiographical one which takes for narrative material only some of the different jobs I've had in my life. If you've been reading this blog for a while you've had most of the high points already. Before what I'm doing now nearly all my jobs had something to do with dress, and even though my working life hasn't been all that long, many of them were in positions or and organisations that are obsolete or have otherwise failed to survive into the present. This seems like enough to get started.

Anyway, Statuary Friday! I made this in the last Life Drawing session for the term, on Wednesday night. It was very good fun.







12 comments:

Scrivener said...

Hey, Statuary Friday! Woohoo!

Your kernel of an idea for a novel sounds pretty good to me. I bet you could write a damn good one.

Zoe said...

You do realise that the scene in the jeans shop is is going to be the movie trailer?

Helen said...

That terracotta woman is fabulous! I'm going to show it to my pottting friend when she visits tomorrow.

I, too, found Alias Grace a bit underwhelming when I read it a few years ago. I think that I had overdosed on that kind of story by Barbara Vine (aka Ruth Rendell) - A Dark Adapted Eye and Asta's Book. Now as a literary crit I know you'll chuckle because Vine/Rendell is not really a writer's toenail compared to Attwood and I do realise it. But her family mysteries (they're really outside the Crime genre) written under the Vine nom de plume really do fascinate.

I thought AG was an attempt at a similar kind of thing which didn't maintain the tension as well.

Like you, I should re read it. Or have I been biased now in its favour?

And yay for shirtless men!!

lucy tartan said...

The terracotta modelling was a fun excercise the whole life drawing class was invited to do. It's a class at the community arts centre Dorian programs. They have a good ceramics studio there so he suggested combining the two courses. I would love to do more of this, instead of plain life drawing.

lucy tartan said...

oh yeah - and Ruth Rendell's books are terrific.

Ray Davis said...

I actually have read some academic criticism which was better than some novels, so I'm afraid what matters is what a person feels like pouring absurd amounts of time and anxiety into. For what one anecdote is worth, my ol' pal Justine Larbalestier never looked back after making the move. (Well, OK, she did look back, but in satisfaction.)

Tim said...

Your abandoned projects are a lot more interesting than my abandoned projects. I say write that novel!

elsewhere said...

I have a feeling I read or heard something somewhere about how people cook and so on in the contemporary novel. Ian McEwan was mentioned....I'll try and remember the reference, it might have been in a New Yorker.

Ampersand Duck said...

How long did you have to make it? (thinking from a model's perpective there!)

I would love to play with clay and short 5- or 10-min poses, like a series of quick sketches. They'd probably look like misshapen squidgy things, but the process would be fun, and there would be bits that seemed promising.

Damn, I want to do some life drawing!

lucy tartan said...

How long...not sure, about 1.5 hours? Maybe a bit less? She posed for short periods and rested between. The mat she was on was turned between each session so we could all see her from different angles.

I've only just worked out which scene in the jeans shop Zoe referred to. (Appropriate, since I mentioned it in a discussion about situations where you don't immediately realise exactly what is going on.)

Helen said...

I remember the jeans shop story - I think you wrote it sometime around the time of, or in response to, the Psycho Man in Plane incident or it might have been in response to my Psycho Man in Pub incident.

Anonymous said...

wow gold
wow gold
wow power leveling
wow power leveling
wow power leveling
wow powerleveling
wow powerleveling
wow powerleveling
World Of Warcraft power leveling
World Of Warcraft power leveling
World Of Warcraft power leveling
World Of Warcraft powerleveling
World Of Warcraft powerleveling
World Of Warcraft powerleveling
wow power level
wow power level
wow power level
cheap wow power leveling
cheap wow power leveling
cheap wow powerleveling
cheap wow powerleveling
codeheart article
Warcraft Gold
World of Warcraft Gold
cheap wow gold