Friday, March 20, 2009

Sylvia Plath never heard the Beatles

Ted Hughes mentions this in discussing the influences on her work, when he is being interviewed in THE PARIS REVIEW INTERVIEWS VOL 3. I found this an arresting thought as I had thought of her as being a sixties figure - her work still seems so modern - but of course she died in 1963. She was thirty-one and has of course remained that age in my idea of her. It's strange to consider that she was only a few years younger than my mother.
I thought at first that I wasn't enjoying this volume of the Paris Review interviews as much as the first (have somehow missed the 2nd), but there are some real gems, particularly the interview with Raynond Carver. When I wrote about short stories a while ago, I didn't mention him and I don't know why not, because he is right up there with the best, just about my favourite short story writer in fact. What I loved most about this interview was his defence of fiction. He argues that it doesn't have to 'make things happen, or change the world. 'Good fiction is partly a bringing of the news from one world to another . . . it doesn't have to do anything. It just has to be there for the fierce pleasure we take in doing it, and the different kind of pleasure we take in reading something that's durable and made to last, as well as beautiful in and of itself. Something that throws off these sparks - a persistent and steady glow, however dim.' Wow! That's just what I feel about Carver's own work. Hard to pick out favourites but 'Elephant', 'Fever,' 'A Small Good Thing' and 'Distance' are among the stories I go back to again and again.

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