January 26, 2007

Undercover Novelist, Midnight Fantasy

Here's another gem via Clive Davis, a snip of an interview with John Mortimer in a Paris Review's "Art of Fiction" interview:

I found writing novels rather a lonely business. You very rarely actually catch anyone reading them. I've heard of a novelist who got onto the tube at Piccadilly Circus for the purpose of getting out at Green Park, a distance of one stop. And as he got onto the tube he found himself sitting next to a girl who was in fact reading one of his novels. And he knew that two hundred pages further on there was a joke. So he sat on till Cockfosters, the end of the line, in the faint hope of hearing a laugh which never came.
I had a similarly dysfunctional experience the first time I ever saw someone reading King Dork in public. It was on BART. The reader was a punky, iPod-wearing girl who was scrunched up in her seat holding the book up in front of her. She was giggling, at the book or at whatever she was listening to - I know not which. I had never been more nervous and embarrassed in my life, and I mean nervous and embarrassed. The only thing I can compare it to is the first time I ever got undressed in front of a woman, except that this time, I didn't get kicked out of the public library. Thank God.

There was no danger of my disrobing, but I did have an unhealthy urge to stroll casually by and try to catch a glimpse of what page she was reading, just in case she might have been laughing at one of my jokes. In the end I chickened out, but I was so rattled by the experience that I ended up getting off at the wrong stop, missing my transfer and adding nearly an hour to my journey. This novel-writing thing definitely has its moments, but there are serious drawbacks.

Posted by Dr. Frank at January 26, 2007 11:58 PM | TrackBack

Journalists experience that stuff on a daily basis. When I was working for the artvoice (www.artvoice.com) I did a cover story on homelessness and spent a weekend on the streets(well, one night in a shelter) to try and document what it's "like" (and i know, i know, i can't compare that to what it's really like, blah blah blah) to be without shelter. i slept on the street two nights.

the cover picture was one of me looking absolutely disgusting on the 3rd day of my experiment, sitting behind a dumpster genuinely in agony while the photographer snapped pictures.

it was a free paper, so everywhere i went in buffalo there i was staring back at myself. in every coffee shop, laundromat, pizza shop, etc. - i would see people reading my story and sometimes they recognized me.

personally, i got off on it.

Posted by: chris riordan at January 27, 2007 11:39 PM

You could've started quoting lines. That would've either really impressed her or scared the shit out of her.

Posted by: Amy 80 at January 28, 2007 12:49 AM

As a blog commentor, I totally sympathize.

Posted by: josh at January 29, 2007 03:25 PM

How cute! I wager she was giggling at the sight of the awkward looking guy staring at her!

You're lucky, when I become self conscious about my uh, work, it's BECAUSE it involves disrobing. Sometimes I wonder if it's worth putting on clothes at all.

Posted by: Anarchie at February 12, 2007 09:45 PM