Monday, August 18, 2008


A passage in J. M. Coetzee's 'Youth'

He has to sit down and write, that is the only way. But he cannot begin writing until the moment is right, and no matter how scrupulously he prepares himself, wiping the table clean, positioning the lamp, ruling a margin down the side of the blank page, sitting with his eyes shut, emptying his mind in readiness – in spite of all this, the words will not come to him. Or rather many words will come, but not the right words, the sentence he will recognize at once, from its weight, from its poise and balance, as the destined one.

He hates these confrontations with the blank page, hates them to the extent of beginning to avoid them. He cannot bear the weight of despair that descends at the end of each fruitless session, the realization that again he has failed. He is well aware that his failure as a writer and his failure as a lover are so closely parallel that they might as well be the same thing. Unless he wills himself to act, nothing will happen, in love or in art. But he does not trust the will. Just as he cannot will himself to write but must wait for the aid of some force from outside, a force that used to be called Muse, so he cannot simply will himself to approach a woman without some intimation that she is his destiny.

All Time Favourite Books

  • Dracula (Bram Stoker)
  • Sophie's Choice (William Styron)
  • Portnoy's Complaint (Philip Roth)
  • Rabbit at Rest (John Updike)
  • The Postman Always Rings Twice (James M Cain)
  • A Farewell to Arms (Ernest Hemingway)
  • Herzog (Saul Bellow)
  • Ham on Rye (Charles Bukowski)
  • The Catcher in the Rye (JD Salinger)
  • The Secret History (Donna Tartt)