By Dale Salwak (eds.)
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Additional info for A Passion for Books
When published it turned out to be moderately successful, and was certainly no worse, if not greatly better, than the general run of fiction I had to read, many years later, for the Booker Prize. The point of interest is that I had joined, if inadvertently, the Gore Vidal awkward squad: those who want not to read but to write; and in so doing I was not writing as myself, the person I really was, but had invented a persona and a situation which made an excuse for putting pen to paper. Like most novels it was a fraud, even though one I had enjoyed pulling off.
But if that was not this English jurywoman's problem, then what was? The novel, which eventually and by a process of bargaining received the prize, had disturbed her deeply in some way - really upset her. That was clear. As I pondered the question it suddenly struck me that she must have felt herself exposed to the author of the book - almost as if violated by him. It was indeed a powerful and disturbing novel - that was, after all, why the jury had singled it out, and why they eventually awarded it the prize - and it had got to this jurywoman in some way that had repelled and even horrified her.
But then nor did I. Charming lightweight authors like E. M. , Diary of a Provincial Lady - were read with pleasure if they had served their time on 36 Ferdinand Mount the shelf. The colonel's wife from next door found me engrossed in Thank Heaven Fasting w h e n I was supposed to be watching a cricket match; she read a few pages and tossed it back to me with disdain, saying 'That's not boys' stuff,' intimating that I ought to be out in the middle facing the fast bowling. It was too awkward to explain that, in fact, I was quite fond of cricket and also enjoyed rugged adventure stories, from Henty to Bulldog Drummond (James Bond not yet having arrived on the scene), but, as is the case with most passionate readers in early life, my tastes were indiscriminate and omnivorous, extending far beyond books to take in any printed matter to hand, from the wording on cereal packets and sauce bottles to the small print on a bus ticket or a railway by-law.
A Passion for Books by Dale Salwak (eds.)