Anakana Schofield – Award Winning Author of Bina, Martin John and Malarky

September 21, 2008


An interview with Philip Roth on The Observer, not linked to here for the simple reason I cannot understand why we (or the medja in our apparent interest and from whom I should state I do earn the odd muffin, incredibly minimal quantity of muffins but muffineen none the less) keep hunting these people who don’t want to be interviewed down. Leave him and those like him alone. We don’t need these pilgrimages to the foot of his remote country lane to learn life busting facts such as the fact his legs have grown incredibly skinny. God help us. Nor one hopes by age 75 should he give a toss that Hitchens (whose miraculous qualification in this instance is he’s lived as a reader through every phase of Roth’s writing …so likely has the average man doling out the shoes at the local bowling alley) declares him fouling his nest (it’s like an uninvited member of the Health Board popping in to comment on the dusting). And the obligatory hasty summing up of a writer’s work, inbetween descriptions of how his brow is furrowed and he doesn’t want to answer questions this afternoon puzzle me as to their purpose.  Why are we going to writers, as though they have any more answers than anyone else? Especially when they’re hiding away among the apple trees, lusting after a bit of peace. Surely we should keep our dealings to what is on the page, rather than the mantlepiece.

Anne Enright had a great piece recently (in Guardian land) describing the perils and viciousness of public questioning. I’m beginning to think we feel writers may have some extra organ we don’t know about that endless questioning may reveal. 

There are people more suited to this boiling to the bones for the last dregs of their information for example and it is a prized topic of mine… weather forecasters. I’d like to see the folks grilled who did a impressive job of predicting the strength of those recent hurricanes who sign the National Hurricane Centre bulletins with only their surnames … or the neurologists could explain why those bright lights and coloured packets in shops make us dizzy? Or experts in the ear canal? Audiologists have minutae on ears to spare. Plus there’s a great deal to know about bees based on a brief exchange with a bee expert.

The Puffin when asked this week for a school assignment who he’d most like to meet declared the person who invented air conditioning. So there’s another niche that needs attending to.

I know why’d I read it? (Mainly because it stated he was writing his last book..and I had to figure out how a person could know such a thing. It did not shed any light) Why do I have links here to writers gabbing? Well it’s a recent insurrection and this piece provoked particular perhaps once off grumpydom. Why do I write about writers? Cue stubbing of inconsistent, hypocritical toe. 

Here’s another curious beam: Neon sign flashing yes above this monitor.

July 8, 2007


Here’s a link to Philip Roth interviewing Milan Kundera, plus here’s a Kundera essay from 1985 in which amongst other things he takes issue with Dostoyevsky.

Kundera’s seven part essay The Curtain is like taking your brain on holiday. Plus in part seven he offers a certain balm to the old brain when he highlights the dubious ability of our memories to track details, as we plough through a novel.  You could imagine millions of brain cells burping in relief.

He has anecdotes about trying to comprehend the invasion of his country in 1968 by the Russians. Since I am bereft of such images, not arriving on the earth until 1971, I had to do with the difficulty of trying to order a hot chocolate or some kind of beverage in a bakery in Prague in the 1980’s and ending up with three of a completely different variety.

May 7, 2007

Unusual pairing

A generous invitation from a friend and I find myself present at a tribute to Frank Sinatra’s music. I cannot resist an opportunity to hear an orchestra live, despite technically not knowing nor liking much of Frank Sinatra’s music.

 A few songs in and the experience of the pink lights and arm swinging by the singer, who apparently sounds just like Frank and from my p.o.v not knowing how Frank sounds could have been Frank, was vastly improved by reading a Philip Roth book: The Facts.

On the page, slightly tricky in the low light of this theatre, I read Roth’s descriptions of an Alcatraz marriage that wrecked ten years of his life and had to be equally trying for the other party, while on stage the joviality blasts on. I can manage this music as long as I don’t actually look at it, which is unfortunate because the very animated conductor is pulling some bendy moves with his lower body and every now and again swings around picks up a trumpet and parps it out beautifully across the auditorium while swaying his belly.

There’s a robust trombone player on the right, whose trombone wails affectionately. The audience swing their curls. The man beside me appears to have poor control of his plump left knee, which keeps visiting my seat and clanking in to my bone. He has binoculars. What’s he looking at? Close up of fingers on the trumpet. How can he handle a closeup on the pink lights when I’m a-dizzy up here in the distance?

I’m more of a Shostakovitch gal and it’s sad that the place is hopping yetlast year at the CBC Radio Orchestra Shostakovitch 100 series the theatre was rattling like a half empty biscuit tin.

The man with the poor knee control is taking a break on the binocs, he wants to know what I am reading. He shrugs. Who is he? He mouthes. More blather from the Frank singer takes care of it. Up go the binocs.

 The content of the book and music seemed an unlikely pairing until I wondered afterward if Frank Sinatra’s music was likely the soundtrack to the demise of most marriages.

Having been raised on Boy George it may explain why marriage has never held any remote appeal.