Yesterday’s booksigning was quite the highbrow affair. I had a glass of wine and ate mini pitta breads with hummus. Simon Armitage read for about half an hour, hopefully not spoiling all the best bits from Gig, and then answered a few questions. When I asked him if one needed to have rhythm to write a poem, he skirted around the issue for a wee while, talking about song lyrics and working with musicians, and then ultimately said that yes, you do need to have rhythm “because a poem must be both the lyrics and the music.” I think I may just turn Regina-Spektor-in-a-box into a short story.
On a separate issue, I have finished Breakfast At Tiffany’s, and its accompanying short stories (possibly tagged onto the end to warrant the publishers charging £7.99, although the one about the woman killing her mother-in-law was pretty good) and I’m now onto Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut. Admittedly, I was all too ignorant of the man until he died not so long ago, but I intend to make up for lost time, appreciating him to the power of at least 8 or 9 hereon in. I read Slapstick a few weeks ago, and his matter of fact prose is just incredible, especially when you consider the themes he covers. It’s the way I want my book to come across; unbelievable concepts relayed as if there is nothing unusual going on at all.
I also like the way he introduces his fiction as if his own personal reality. Perhaps this doesn’t happen in all his novels, but Slapstick is described in the early pages as being (if I remember correctly) “as close to an autobiography as I will ever write”, before he talks about harmonious brains and a killer fever and the introduction of artificial extended families. Oh, and going to Mars. In Slaughterhouse 5, which I have only just begun, the first chapter is given over to a reunion with an old war buddy, as Vonnegut wanted to talk about their experiences in Dresden in order to write the book as faithfully as possible. Perhaps it will turn into an entirely realistic portrayal of the Second World War, but I doubt that.