During the last, October Writers’ Group meet, John Elliott inevitably mentioned his interview. The interviewer, Quentin, may even have got a mention as might the publisher, Chomu. I’ve since listened to it by the link http://soundcloud.com/chomuradioarchive/john-elliott-interview and can recommend you give it a shot, see if it interests you as much as it did me who am perhaps prejudiced in favour of two fellow members and certainly one of them. John, while unknown to me and Betty Clark then, was a Glasgow writer in the Sixties. How swinging I don’t know. I haven’t read his novel published by Calder, Moment (or maybe) Act of Indulgence. My attention did occasionally drift, OK!
The interview is an hour long and slowly spoken, as it would be by these two. I was surprised to find similarities between my approach to writing and John’s, since he’s pretty antipathetic to mine eg he eschews metaphor in order to keep things concrete. He also tries to incorporate the reader into the book as I do in ‘the book’ and Instance…. (and probably elsewhere). How successfully he does I can’t judge though I’ve heard chunks of both his latest published and to be published books, thanks to the WG meetings where they’ve been read out over the years. If pressed I’d say at least one reader wasn’t incorporated. He has the idea of creating in his fiction a reality, alluding to whatever he thinks is the real one, but real of and in itself. I am sincerely not antipathetic to his writing as he is to mine but it hasn’t drawn me into it so I don’t know from experience what he means by his fictional reality. The idea, however, interested me but, though he elaborates on it in the interview, it was insufficiently elucidated for me to grasp what was meant by it in what is admittedly fiction which has also admitted antecedents and derivations from other literary works. In fact it was all very literary and intellectual.
These two, interviewee and -viewer, have a lot in common. You may have too, with them. Do you find writing a curse? They do. Why they therefore persist with what is a cross to be borne is beyond me unless that it is is the pleasure. Christ has a lot to answer for in making masochism a virtue. Regardless of that, whether writing is curse or doubtful pleaasure, judge for yourself if you’d want to give his writing a go by giving the interview a go. Go to.