I have been reading.
I have been reading a lot.
I’ve read the full longlist from the 2019 Booker Prize, all thirteen titles, I’ve read Nicola Barker’s latest release, ‘I Am Sovereign’, and a number of her earlier titles, I’ve read Laszlo Krasznahorkai, Roberto Bolaño, film theory, books of literary criticism, a number of Ezra Pound’s Cantos and titles on the recently announced shortlist for the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award. I’ve read Fernando Pessoa, Samuel Beckett, Lydia Davis, James Kelman, Daniel Defoe, Julio Cortázar and Robert Musil. I’ve read poems in journals, books by π.o., Dorothee Elmiger, Richard James Allen, Zenobia Frost.
I have also been writing.
I’ve written criticism, poems, short stories, non-fiction, experimental pieces that fit somewhere between poetry and prose. I’ve written lists, ideas in notebooks, I’ve collected quotes, I’ve scribbled ideas on dockets and receipts, transcribed interviews. I’ve written submissions to journals, emails to editors. I’ve sat with friends whilst we workshopped our pieces, frantically brainstorming ideas.
What I haven’t done is written about what I’ve read, not for this blog.
I toyed with the idea of a piece about the demise of the Booker Prize, the longlist had a few enjoyable titles, the shortlist contained a number of ordinary books, but the chair and the judges didn’t need outside prompting from myself to turn the prize into a joke, they opened themselves up for further ridicule by awarding joint winners, which is against the modified rules, and then a judge had the audacity to publicly state that one of those winners was for their “body of work”, not the book that was nominated. Books made the longlist and the shortlist without being publicly available – one of the joint winners wasn’t published until after the shortlist announcement. I didn’t need to write about the prize, it wrote itself, meanwhile the organisers raise their glasses of imported champagne and spruik increased publicity and sales.
I toyed with writing a post for each of the thirteen titles in the longlist, I tossed up whether a short piece for each would be worthwhile, I debated whether criticism of any title would only instigate hate responses. I didn’t need to write about these books, other people did so, you can find glowing reports of the shabbiest and formulaic of the titles.
I thought about writing about the developing themes in Nicola Barker’s work, starting with her debut ‘Reversed Forecast’. I wondered if anybody understood the Colonialism theme in her latest ‘I Am Sovereign’, a title that came and went without raising a murmur.
I thought a travel literature post could be in order, using Laszlo Krasznahorkai’s ‘Destruction and Sorrow Beneath the Heavens’ and Christoph Ransmayr’s ‘Atlas of an Anxious Man’, instead I wrote about my own travel.
I have several pieces of work that have been accepted for publication in journals and magazines in the coming months.
I now feel less is better.
I read and I write, I’m just not writing about what I read.
I may write something that I’ll publish here, I may interview another poet or a bunch of poets and publish the results here, I may not.
It is not the effort involved, it is not because I feel I am not adding to any meaningful debate, it is not because I’m seeing a worrying trend of people talking up the same titles, it is not because I’m disenchanted. I don’t know why; I just don’t feel the need to share anymore.
I still read.
I still write.
I just don’t write here.