Monday, September 14, 2009

Red letter day

Red letter day today.

First, I have a lovely review of Balancing on the Edge of the World from Jim Murdoch on his 'Truth About Lies' blog. It's a really long, detailed review, considering seriously his own reactions to the book and the individual stories - why he remembered some better than others, for instance - and looking in depth at the literary and thematic issues, yet written in a lovely unaffected, personal style. Jim takes the trouble, too, to relate all this to my own comments about the stories in my virtual book tour, Around the Edges of the World, and other web interviews. This is the kind of review that really touches me: serious yet very personal. You know your book has been given proper literary attention, and yet also there is that true sense of how readers are responding to your work which you often don't get from a so-called professional review.

Perhaps his most quotable sentence is this: 'This is storytelling for the 21st century' (and of course I will quote it), but he's also picked out a passage from the erotic story 'Into the Night' which for some reason most reviewers have glossed over (and I must say reading the passage he quotes made even me go a little red, if metaphorically!). This is what he says about it:
an absolute tour-de-force: this woman can write. Just take note of how much she packs into this little block of text... This is tight, effective writing that manages to be erotic and poetic and yet it reveals more than two anonymous, writhing, naked forms. This was written by someone who knows how to squeeze meanings out of words till they squeal.
(Actually this story was the one my mum didn't like: it embarrassed her totally, which is rich, as she's always telling me to put more sex in my writing if I want it to sell!)

The second nice thing is that my Salt page for Too Many Magpies has gone up, and you can go there to read an extract from the beginning of the book.

The third nice thing is that I went out this morning to try and distribute posters for our Didsbury Festival reading, and every shop I went into agreed to take one - even a couple who don't normally put posters up. Everyone seems quite excited about the festival, and it does look as though it's going to be great...

10 comments:

Debi said...

Just read the extract. It sounds wonderful (hardly a surprise, but anyway ...)

Elizabeth Baines said...

Glad you thought so, Debi!

Jim Murdoch said...

As far as sex goes I'm always reminded of the advice Peter Benchley was given concerning his novel Jaws, that no one would want to read a novel about a shark and he needed to spice the book up with a bit of sex, which he dutifully did and the first thing Spielberg did was cut the chapter because it added nothing to the story.

Elizabeth Baines said...

Yes, exactly, it's what I'm always saying to my mum, but will she listen? Although, actually she's gone a bit quiet on this matter since I wrote 'Into the Night'...

Rachel Fox said...

Mothers...not always the most reliable advisors on literary matters!

Interesting to read Jim's long and thoughtful review. I particularly like reviews that come out later (and not necessarily when a book is new and hot off press). I know it's not necessarily what publishers want but it can be more interesting for readers in some ways (a book is for life and not just for the first week of publication...). I did read your book of stories more or less when it came out...maybe I'll go back and read it again.

x

Elizabeth Baines said...

Yes, Rachel, I think it's good to contemplate a book away form all the publication hype - it's one of the reasons I really love my reading group. I love that reassessment thing, too, when books are years old: we find that very interesting.

adele geras said...

Very good and intriguing extract! I will buy the book next Saturday night, I hope!

Elizabeth Baines said...

Um, hope by that you mean 26th! (Guess the coming SAt is THIS Sat)

Kate said...

Congratulations on the review thats really good news.

Kate x

Elizabeth Baines said...

Thanks, Kate!