Monday, 29 March 2010

What to do when you read bad books

I've been reading through Gene Wolfe's essays in Castle of Days (1992) as preparation for my thesis. My favourite has to be the hilarious "Lone Wolfe: A Self-Conducted Interview with Gene Wolfe" from 1983. I particularly loved the following passage (pp. 315-6):
Q: You have the reputation of being one of the nicest guys in the field. We both know you're a hyena on its hind legs. How have you fooled everyone?
A: By keeping my mouth shut when I read garbage.
Q: Have you found that difficult?
A: No. I'm constantly running into people who've read bad books clean to the end. I admire them more than I can say, but I can't do that—when I get shit in my eyes I close them fast and cry.
Q: You also throw the book at the wall and scare the dog.
A: Yeah. And when somebody asks me how I liked the book, I say I haven't read it, because it's really not fair for me to judge without finishing the book. Maybe the last nine-tenths are marvelous. But I doubt it.
There are some fascinating essays in the collection (and some less so). There is a definite religious focus in many of his essays in The Castle of the Otter, the companion volume to The Book of the New Sun, which I believe reveals the degree to which religious and theological ideas were central to the book's development and writing.

Now it's on to Shadows of the New Sun: Wofle on Writing/Writers on Wolfe, edited by Peter Wright. I'm mining the essays (and interviews) for what Wolfe says about his own faith, ideology and worldview. I've read much of what he's written on the topic before, but now I have to relocate it for proper citation.

1 comment:

  1. Shadows of the New Sun is a great book. I only got it a month ago and I have re-read several of the interviews and articles. I am less fond of anything Wolfe-related by Robert Borski as many of his ideas and interpretations are wayyy out there. I also have a pdf somewhere from a local paper in Wolfe's area that has pics of his office (laundry room in the basement) and a very fun interview with him. The man is just as interesting as his fiction.