Thursday, 18 September 2008

The Truman Letters II


Well, Truman, it's been over a year now since I asked you those questions back in July 2007, and I'm afraid I still haven't found many answers. Some, yes, but not many. My apologies for not having sat down with In Cold Blood yet, but don't you worry, Mr Capote, I won't fail you. I have, however, had time to read about you, and some internet users have even had the good grace to put clips of you on YouTube. You were, are, and always will be a fascinating man to say the least.

After reading up, I found you wanted to take literature in a new direction with In Cold Blood, that of the non-fiction novel. That much I can understand. But some of the people in the novel - and we're talking about real people here, Mr Capote, with thoughts and feelings - say there are factual inaccuracies in the book. What was the deal with that? Was that part of your nastier side coming out, an effort to cause a stir, or just the writer in you? Or is someone trying to save face here?

The book I read also stated that you did have feelings for one of the convicted killers, that you somehow identified with him because he'd had an equally difficult childhood as yourself. And that the title itself wasn't a reference to the crimes for which the pair were sentenced to death, but to their punishment by the State. Were these also motivation for the book? My guess now is that you wanted to leave a legacy, or at least a record, of the life of someone who the whole world was against except you, to let them know that somebody understood what they'd been through, that they did matter to somebody. Am I right? How can I ever know?

I know now that you really did want to be famous. You loved it, didn't you? All the parties, all the wild nights and the glamour. That meant a lot to you. But it all went wrong. You went too far by selling your friends' lives in your books, peddling gossip and intimacies in your fiction. That's when the problems started. You lived as a writer and died as a writer. It's a shame, a real shame, because you really did have the world at your feet, Mr Capote. Why did you throw it all away?

The sad part is that you were a victim, too. Someone who could be sure to entertain party guests, someone who could make a party a success. People tolerated your gossipy nature if they thought there was something in it for them. Only a few people really stuck by your side through thick and thin. How the world moves in mysterious ways.

Mr Capote, it's been a pleasure sharing some thoughts with you. I'm sure I'll have more thoughts and questions in the future. If there really is some place up in the sky where we can all meet together, I look forward to seeing you some day and securing the answers I've been seeking.

Better still, maybe you can give me some tips on where I'm going wrong with my own writing. But if you don't feel like it, then. just like all those people at the parties, the balls and the crazy, crazy nights, I'll be happy simply to sit and listen to what you have to say.

Yours with curiosity,

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Born to Write?


Some people, when they put pen to paper or sit themselves down at the keyboard, convey the impression that a high register and complex vocabulary make for good writing. Almost certainly you can't write 'good' and 'bad' for every single negative and positive. That much is true.

But personally, I've always felt that good writing was simple but colourful, words with a voice, elegant phrases. Never should the choice of adjective, noun or expression alienate the reader. I can't tell you the number of times I've put down a book, feeling I was somehow beneath the writer, and too stupid to be reading the book in question in the first place. Am I or is it just poor writing?

In his book Like the Flowing River, the international best-selling author and one of the giants of reflexive literature, Paolo Coelho, recalls his investigation at the age of 15 into what being a writer is. His young mind of then drew, amongst other things, these conclusions: 

  • that writers have interests in topics no one else does
  • that all writers are fans of James Joyce's Ulysseys
  • that all writers understand concepts that would scare others
  • that what they're reading at the moment is a book no one else has heard of
  • that writers express themselves in a complicated fashion
  • that writers impress women at dinners by stating their profession, then following it up by writing a poem on a napkin, which always works for them.

So I find myself now asking if writing was something I was meant to do or not. In terms of my interests, I'm a fairly regular guy: keep fit, literature, music and sport. And I've read Dubliners, but not Ulysseys, and would by no means consider myself a fan. As for concepts that would scare others, that's not my style: if it's too complex for me, I don't absorb it and I certainly don't discuss it with others! Complicated expression - I'd like to think I get to the point. Impressing women by writing a poem on a napkin; well, the romantic in me once wrote an invitation to dinner with me in my finest Italian to a girl with Italian blood. The outcome? - a request to explain what the invitation itself said, followed by a swift but polite and excruciating rejection. You were saying, Mr Coelho?

I look back on that last incident and remember it with a smile! Maybe that idealism, that romanticism suggests a potential of sorts. My own style is based on my own theory, but is it the right one? Does it have colour? Does it have a voice? And is it one you want to keep on hearing? Or just background music in print?

How I need to know.

Wednesday, 30 April 2008

The League of Ordinary Gentlemen


Good evening all! It's a warm Saturday evening here in Sabadell, Barcelona, and the tension is mounting as we await the Grand Prix tomorrow, to be held just round the corner at Montmeló, and look to Fernando Alonso to do the Spanish nation(s) proud against that nasty Hamilton of Albion. But Saturday evenings, of course, mean football night, these days another hotbed of controversy; well, not so much 'these days' as just another hotbed of controversy!

And they wouldn't be complete without it. What better way can there be to spend a couple of hours on a Saturday night than hurling abuse at the players of your own side? Because that, ladies and gentlemen, is the state of play these days in La Liga, so abysmal is the performance of the players in the top teams of this normally fabulous league. And there's one team in particular where it's all happening, sorry, not happening should I say: the club that is més que un club - do they still dare to call themselves that these days? - Barcelona C.F.

Yep, some of these over-paid prima donnas are sending Kleenex sales through the roof with their dire run, plus their lack of respect for each other and for their fans. I think it's one win in nine league games now. I've never been one to laugh at the misfortunes of others - you must have been a real shit to me if I do that, because life goes on - but I must confess to profound enjoyment of the disastrous season this club are having. Very much so, in fact. So many millions - invested in foreign players and yet it seems to be the local boys that save the club's skin, and that goes for Real Madrid too - and so little quality. On top of that, the rights to the Barcelona matches are sold to the Spanish satellite channel on pay-per-view TV, so fans are forced into a bar to see their idols play if they don't have satellite or can't afford a season ticket, although they may have scraped together some money for a shirt - and all to see them lose.

And now we're really starting to see the true colours of some of the players that are being paid millions to stick the ball in the back of the net. Deco, for instance, close to the start of the season had stated that if there was no silverware to speak of at the end of it then a move would be in order for him. And not so long ago, Eto'o also declared himself ready to up sticks if there was no glory on its way, to the club that offers the most money, he says with a laugh. Oh yes, there's also Ronaldinho, who, supposedly, is said to have signed for a move to AC Milan, after several weeks of sitting around on a nice cosy bench. Why don't they sign up more local lads instead - "Here you go son, here's €5,000 a month" and watch them take you to the Champion's League final.

So yes, I'm not Barcelona's greatest fan at the moment. In fact, I'm still sucking on sour grapes after Ronaldhino got sent off 20 minutes into the league game against Getafe in May of last year - at roughly 70 GBP per ticket. Quina vergonya!

But, like I said, life goes on. I think I've said enough for now. I'm off to buy some white handkerchiefs...