Saturday, August 14, 2010

Simon Lelic

Simon Lelic has worked as a journalist in the UK and currently runs his own business in Brighton, England, where he lives with his wife and two sons.

His debut novel is A Thousand Cuts [Rupture, in the UK].

Recently I asked him what he was reading. His reply:
Currently, most of my reading is research for my next novel. I am reluctant to reveal any specific titles, because they would immediately give away the topic and I have yet to discuss this even with my publisher. Also, I am learning I am superstitious about talking about a book before it is complete. In my mind it is too fragile - too liable to fall apart - to risk passing yet to someone else for inspection.

I am also learning, however, that despite the pressures of time I cannot not have a novel on my bedside table. At the moment, it is The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas. I picked it up because I love the premise and I was intrigued by the structure. I will concede, however, that I am disappointed. Like so many novels I read these days, it seems flabby. It seems, too, gratuitous. I am no prude (my current novel, A Thousand Cuts, or, when it is published next year, The Facility, will both attest to that) but I do tend to switch off to swearing and sex when I encounter them every other paragraph. OK, maybe that's an exaggeration (though not much of one) but as a writer is still strikes me as lazy. As, in fact, does the way the author seems to drop in 'issues' whenever two characters decide to have a conversation.

Wow. I am discovering, as I write this, that I really dislike The Slap. I am sure Mr Tsiolkas will not lose too much sleep, however. The consensus seems firmly against me: he has, after all, just been long-listed for the Booker Prize. Also, the book if nothing else has provoked a reaction in me. I will certainly remember it. There are plenty of books I have enjoyed more that have long ago slipped from my mind.

To end, a more positive recommendation from my current reading list: The Paris Review Interviews. If you are a visitor to this site you are probably already familiar with them, but the four volumes that comprise the set will delight anyone who cares about writing. I was particularly struck by the following, from Peter Carey in 2006: 'Even the novel I am writing now - and I am well into it - I still can't be sure it's going to work, and I certainly don't know how it's all going to come together and I don't even know quite yet what it means, and that makes it dangerous to plow ahead every day.' Which, in a sentence, is how it tends to feel for me.
Read an excerpt from A Thousand Cuts, and learn more about the book and author at Simon Lelic's website.

The Page 69 Test: A Thousand Cuts.

--Marshal Zeringue