RIP Muriel Spark

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Odd to see no mention here yet.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Saturday, 15 April 2006 13:25 (fourteen years ago) link

'Here' meaning ILX, until now, of course.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Saturday, 15 April 2006 13:26 (fourteen years ago) link

RIP Dame Muriel. I brought The Mandelbaum Gate along to read this weekend.

Jaq (Jaq), Saturday, 15 April 2006 13:57 (fourteen years ago) link

RIP, what a fucking excellent writer. Sucks to lose her and Lem within a month, I think I read about four books by each last year.

n/a (Nick A.), Saturday, 15 April 2006 14:02 (fourteen years ago) link

aw fuck - she's one of my half dozen favourite writers ever. Dammit. RIP.

Martin Skidmore (Martin Skidmore), Saturday, 15 April 2006 14:03 (fourteen years ago) link

wow, how sad. she is one of my true heroes. when janet frame and then saul bellow died, i remember thinking that muriel was one of my few heroes left alive. she kept writing and she kept up her own high standards till the end.

scott seward (scott seward), Saturday, 15 April 2006 14:56 (fourteen years ago) link

i'm glad that she was able to die in her beloved italy. her home. even if it was in a hospital.

scott seward (scott seward), Saturday, 15 April 2006 15:06 (fourteen years ago) link

:(

Tracey Hand (tracerhand), Saturday, 15 April 2006 17:40 (fourteen years ago) link

it is very sad. she is one of my absolute favourite writers, a genius. so sharp and clever and funny and watchful. RIP.

estela (estela), Saturday, 15 April 2006 20:56 (fourteen years ago) link

RIP. Wonderful writer.

Stew (stew s), Saturday, 15 April 2006 21:19 (fourteen years ago) link

Speaking of Saul Bellow and Muriel Spark:

MA: I was doing a class with him last year on Conrad's The Shadow Line, one of Conrad's novellas, and we were saying, “What was this novel about?” And someone said rhetorically, (I mean you can't say what's a novel about) "What's Augie March about?" And Saul replied, "It's about two hundred pages too long." And when he looks back at Augie March, it's not that it's without interest, these long riffs, it's just that they're not as artistically controlled as he'd like.

RB: Suggesting that he learned something as he went forward?

MA: Except that Augie March is Augie March, and a big novel has a way of pushing aside these little fastidious objections. I am just saying this is something of considerable size and therefore the longer book, the less you actually worry about artistic symmetries and so on. You just think, “Never mind about form, we are going to go with the voice.” And it's a tremendous liberation.

RB: There is apparently a conventional writerly wisdom that novels are more forgiving, big sloppy puppy dogs and short stories are taut little show terriers?

MA: Well, exactly. Muriel Spark said, "Every novel is a failed short story. And every short story is a failed poem." But I think that makes a fetish of brevity. Things just—it's one of the things that Bellow embodies. You obey your instinct—easily or not at all. Let it flow.

caek (caek), Saturday, 15 April 2006 21:27 (fourteen years ago) link

i blogged this:

i think as a writer she matched my world view the best, and her subtle, wrathful, asp on the worlds breast approach to life, and how small and seemingly slight her novels were, but how wise they were to the human condition.

she was bitter, and angry, but refused to spew, constructing traps for all our sins, traps of great skill and astonishing effectivness.

abess of crewe, her allegory on nixon, was the best book on power and responsiblity written perhaps ever, but no one paid attention to it, 100 pages, about nuns and abbies, how could it say something significant.

that she failed to win the nobel is still a mark that writers prizes are dick measuring contests, the bigger, and more epic in scoipe the book the better, and small artifacts of our own darkness, will never be rewarded.

in many ways, it reminds me of w, how little seriousness people took highsmith's ripleys novels as works of literture, as medtations on desire and how it makes pychopaths of us all...(also note the love for zadie smiths white teeth, a brilliant mess versus on beauty, perhaps the first perfect novel of the 21st)

anthony, Saturday, 15 April 2006 21:33 (fourteen years ago) link

two years pass...

Unbelievably, I started my first Spark novel ("Jean Brodie") today.

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn, Tuesday, 11 November 2008 00:41 (eleven years ago) link

three months pass...

http://www.believermag.com/issues/200902/?read=article_clarke

just sayin, Saturday, 28 February 2009 19:53 (eleven years ago) link

nine months pass...

I just finished The Ballad of Peckham Rye. I'm on a kick. Where else should I go? How's A Far Cry From Kensington? I've also read Jean Brodie, Girls of Slender Means, The Abbess of Crewe.

scott!!!

Hell is other people. In an ILE film forum. (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 17 December 2009 17:11 (ten years ago) link

she is so awesome

i strongly recommend "the comforters"

congratulations (n/a), Thursday, 17 December 2009 17:17 (ten years ago) link

but everything i've read by her is great

congratulations (n/a), Thursday, 17 December 2009 17:17 (ten years ago) link

Memento Mori! And The Driver's Seat. I would put those top of the list.

Parenthetic hound (woofwoofwoof), Thursday, 17 December 2009 17:18 (ten years ago) link

If you already didnt, I'd suggest "Memento Mori". It is AMAZING.

Marco Damiani, Thursday, 17 December 2009 17:19 (ten years ago) link

the driver's seat is her best but yeah u can't go wrong really

cozwn, Thursday, 17 December 2009 17:19 (ten years ago) link

xpost Ouch, beaten by a neck!

Marco Damiani, Thursday, 17 December 2009 17:20 (ten years ago) link

me too! :)

cozwn, Thursday, 17 December 2009 17:20 (ten years ago) link

Yup, never been beaten in a Momento Mori and The Driver's Seat recommending race.

Parenthetic hound (woofwoofwoof), Thursday, 17 December 2009 17:21 (ten years ago) link

I didn't know the driver's seat was made into a film; will have to see if I can track it down

cozwn, Thursday, 17 December 2009 17:22 (ten years ago) link

i read a bunch of these all around the same time and now i can't remember which one is which anymore :(

congratulations (n/a), Thursday, 17 December 2009 17:22 (ten years ago) link

Luckily my library has almost everything except Loitering with Intent. Thanks, guys!

Hell is other people. In an ILE film forum. (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 17 December 2009 17:23 (ten years ago) link

Driver's Seat seems an odd one to claim is her best. I don't know that I could particularly recommend anything from her first decade over any of the others. A great run, though. Kensington seems to show up all over the place, I wonder if it was over-publicised then remaindered or something. maybe it was just popular

thomp, Thursday, 17 December 2009 17:25 (ten years ago) link

are there any dece biographies?

alfred, have you ever read any jean rhys?

cozwn, Thursday, 17 December 2009 17:26 (ten years ago) link

A Far Cry From Kensington seems to have gotten the best reviews of any book post-1980.

I see Aiding and Abetting remaindered a lot.

Hell is other people. In an ILE film forum. (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 17 December 2009 17:26 (ten years ago) link

Can't go wrong with Kensington.

There was a thread recently where everybody was recommending The Driver's Seat. Ah yes, it was here: Recommend great novellas here

Lord Soto Odin (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 17 December 2009 17:32 (ten years ago) link

Yup, never been beaten in a Momento Mori and The Driver's Seat recommending race.

― Parenthetic hound (woofwoofwoof), Thursday, 17 December 2009 17:21 (11 minutes ago) Bookmark Suggest Ban Permalink

here wait a minute I beat u on the thread james linked

cozwn, Thursday, 17 December 2009 17:33 (ten years ago) link

At one point I thought about adopting the screen name Memento Maury, but it seems to have been taken, at least outside of ILX. Memento Moray too.

Lord Soto Odin (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 17 December 2009 17:38 (ten years ago) link

But not

Memento Morel (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 17 December 2009 17:40 (ten years ago) link

yeah when I said never I meant this month or since I read it in sept ok busted.

First big biog, by Martin Stannard, came out this year. Good reviews I think.

I do think MM has a slight edge over the rest, and that there's definite patchiness in some of that first-decade stuff, like she's moving the pieces around a bit stiffly, and hasn't quite nailed that tone that kills me (impassive omniscient stare at peculiar, flawed creatures). But even Spark on patchy form is better than any local contemporary, & I don't think I'd call challops on someone claiming eg Robinson and The Bachelors as her best.

I go for Driver's Seat because it's so concentrated & goes flat out for that can't-stop-reading present tense immediacy. Maybe The Public Image pulls off the same trick? But TDS feels neater.

Parenthetic hound (woofwoofwoof), Thursday, 17 December 2009 17:41 (ten years ago) link

I can see how reading a bunch of the really short ones at one time will make them blur together – I had the same problem with Kingsley Amis (who's maybe her only peer at this sort of dry-as-toast comedy?)

Hell is other people. In an ILE film forum. (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 17 December 2009 17:45 (ten years ago) link

I got The Driver's Seat from the library. Thanks again.

Hell is other people. In an ILE film forum. (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 17 December 2009 18:05 (ten years ago) link

Kensington is great! I stll put 'Gilrls of Slender Means' as maybe her best--all that dry, bleak humour and suppressed, fermenting female sexuality

Yeah, that one too.

Memento Morel (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 17 December 2009 23:15 (ten years ago) link

i love it all pretty much, but that 70's run of weirdness is just so strange and cool and one of a kind that i gotta mention it. not usually where i tell people to start when they want to start with her, but i thought i'd give that part of her career a shout-out:

The Driver's Seat (1970)
Not to Disturb (1971)
The Hothouse by the East River (1973)
The Abbess of Crewe (1974)
The Takeover (1976)
Territorial Rights (1979)

scott seward, Thursday, 17 December 2009 23:42 (ten years ago) link

how would you rate Kensington, scott?

Hell is other people. In an ILE film forum. (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 17 December 2009 23:43 (ten years ago) link

i liked it a lot. been years since i read it. i should really do a re-read of her books. that would be fun. i've been meaning to do this with janet frame too cuz i read her books when i was in my 20s mostly and now i am, um, not in my 20s.

the one spark book i remember having trouble with for some reason was the mandelbaum gate. i just remember not being able to get into it for some reason. it's more "epic" than most of her books. and more outwardly political. it read kind of like a "prize-winning" book to me. if that makes sense. but i should give that another go to. i was a lot more fidgety in my 20s.

scott seward, Thursday, 17 December 2009 23:50 (ten years ago) link

alfred, not the same thing entirely, but i implore you and anyone else who hasn't read her to give elizabeth taylor (no, not that one) a chance. god, i love her. james morrison will back me up here. just thought of her for some reason. kinda like barbara pym mixed with spark. kinda. whereas spark is kinda like graham greene + patricia highsmith. kinda. (i just made that up. might not actually hold water.)

scott seward, Thursday, 17 December 2009 23:55 (ten years ago) link

highsmith biog very much worth reading

cozwn, Thursday, 17 December 2009 23:56 (ten years ago) link

she was a loon! and, again, the later highsmith stuff is practically hallucinogenic. so fascinating. i've got lots of highsmith at home i still haven't read and i savor it all.

i need more graham greene in my life too. i started reading brighton rock at work the other day and before i knew it i was halfway done. addictive!

scott seward, Friday, 18 December 2009 00:01 (ten years ago) link

i haven't read the biog though. just looked at it and read other articles/essays.

scott seward, Friday, 18 December 2009 00:02 (ten years ago) link

the girls of slender means is excellent. bitter, mysterious, and hilarious.

you are wrong I'm bone thugs in harmon (omar little), Friday, 18 December 2009 00:05 (ten years ago) link

Her books are so easy to gobble that when you get to page seventy after, like, twenty minutes you have to reread to get what you missed.

Hell is other people. In an ILE film forum. (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 18 December 2009 00:10 (ten years ago) link

three months pass...

Read a very positive review in Harper's of the Martin Stannard bio that is just coming out on this side of the pond.

Blecch Generation (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 17 April 2010 13:19 (ten years ago) link

But the NYT reviewer called it a "lumpy mattress of a biography".

Blecch Generation (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 17 April 2010 13:23 (ten years ago) link

New Yorker none too fond of if either.

Throwing Muses are reuniting for my next orgasm! (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Saturday, 17 April 2010 13:24 (ten years ago) link

well, if you haven't read muriel's own autobio, it's a great read. Curriculum Vitae.

scott seward, Saturday, 17 April 2010 18:23 (ten years ago) link

At the risk of generalizing, god, the Brits are so much better at autobiography.

Throwing Muses are reuniting for my next orgasm! (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Saturday, 17 April 2010 18:24 (ten years ago) link

I agree!

god (Matt P), Saturday, 17 April 2010 18:38 (ten years ago) link

OK, I dropped by the library on the way home to pick up Curriculum Vitae and will wait for them to get a copy of the Stannard bio.

Blecch Generation (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, 20 April 2010 00:16 (ten years ago) link

one year passes...

I'm ready to resume.

The Takeover.

lumber up, limbaugh down (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 31 October 2011 17:00 (eight years ago) link

Admittedly I hear you delivering that a la Jay-Z.

Ned Raggett, Monday, 31 October 2011 17:09 (eight years ago) link

That was fun. The ending was sloppy though.

I'm starting The Only Problem when I get home.

lumber up, limbaugh down (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 2 November 2011 17:11 (eight years ago) link

three years pass...

Read Territorial Rights. Plot is a mess but she's a treasure.

guess that bundt gettin eaten (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 21 January 2015 01:05 (five years ago) link

which one is that? I was doing odds and sods of late work circa last christmas

♛ LIL UNIT ♛ (thomp), Wednesday, 21 January 2015 06:55 (five years ago) link


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