sparks of the one and only muriel in rome 1971


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New Directions, one of the -if not the- only unashamed publishers of books left, send out a newsletter which currently flags up their edition of Not To Disturb [1971] and a forthcoming Curriculum Vitae [1992] and links to Maud Newton’s blog which itself links to this gorgeous interview with a profanely regal Muriel in that palatial apartment in Rome [cf Martin Stannard’s recent biography]. It’s a very nice way to spend 29 minutes and 44 seconds…

CV is one of my favourite of her books, one of my favourite books altogether [republished in 2009 by Carcanet here]. I remember being stunned by its clarity of recall of an early life in Edinburgh. It’s all there, down to the wood of the chairs in each classroom kind of detail, an all-present narrative prose that contrasts almost completely with my own inevitably elliptical memory and what -to risk baying English laughter- I have to call precisely, my equivalent poem [very possibly a bad poem, but I’m being exact rather than qualitative]. Incidentally, claiming Spark is one of the few times that conventional thinking has any appeal to me. If a notion of patrilineage were a substantive approach to life, I’d simply be a Scot -albeit via lengthy colonising detour -which rather underscores it…

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