Living with the Truth Stranger than Fiction This Is Not About What You Think Milligan and Murphy Making Sense

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Jeanette and Richard

I love Jeanette Winterson in much the same way I love Richard Brautigan. I think she’s beautiful and it delights me no end when I rediscover – because I never remember – that we’re the same age; he’s handsome in a way that only my wife will ever see me and it pleases me, again for no logical reason, that we both had daughters even if he did give his an odd name (Ianthe). But that’s not why I love them.

My wife owns every book Jeanette has ever written. She even has a DVD of her screenplay. I have virtually everything Richard ever wrote though I doubt I’ll ever have the money to afford some of the early poetry books. I’ve not read all of Jeanette’s books nor am I in a rush to buy the last couple of Richard’s novels that I’ve not got to (The Hawkline Monster and Dreaming of Babylon). The reason is the same: I’ve read everything Samuel Beckett ever wrote.

I own a copy of every piece of fiction that Beckett ever wrote. I have DVDs of all his stage plays, CDs of all his radio plays, I have video clips of his television plays and more books about the man than most libraries. There is nothing I have not read or seen and there never will be again.

So I eke out the Brautigan. I’ve a good twenty or thirty years left in me; there’s no rush. And I’ll get around to all the Winterson too in time. At least I’ve not made the mistake with her and gobbled up greedily everything she has ever written as soon as it was available. There are certain writers in this world who need to be savoured. Asimov, by his own admission, is a decent enough storyteller, as is Philip K Dick, but with a few special writers the journey is the destination.

I met Jeanette once in a Waterstones; she’s totie (Scots for small). She made a mess of signing my book and was quite disarming, very human. I wanted to tell her she was beautiful but I chickened out besides I felt shallow, judging a book by its cover, and so I said I thought she was the most articulate person I had ever met which I think might have embarrassed her about as much. I don’t think I would’ve felt such a strong urge to tell Richard Brautigan he was handsome.

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