With another new novel due from Russell Hoban this Winter [Angelica Lost and Found, Bloomsbury], I’m re-archiving a profile/interview/critical piece I wrote for The Independent near the beginning of his admirably sustained resurgence -if I can put it like that.
So much earnest nonsense is regurgitated in the British press about ‘lateness’ in the writing of fiction -usually from the chin of Martin Amis- that I enjoy the way that Hoban continues to take his chances, give his best shot, make more writerly attempts. I admire him as a writer as such, rather more than for his writing sentence-by-sentence, which I hope I articulate with more precision below.
Some of my favourite works of fiction -let’s just instance Bouvard and Pecuchet– were written not only ‘late’ but too late -in that they’re not ‘finished’. Actually, I shouldn’t blame Amis [whose Success, Money and Experience will last] for having his thoughts/neuroses on the subject, but those who have reported boyish bar-talk so solemnly throughout my entire adult life!
So here is the Hoban rescued from The Independent’s patchy site. One thing; mention of a blue plaque [in a sentence with a cut and now edited-back-in second half for clarity] was a joke! Right? Obviously. Or it would be obvious to anyone that knows him or his work, or indeed me and mine. In the back of my mind were the ironies of memorialising Edgar Allan Poe’s short time in London -The Man of the Crowd, all that.
A first review of Angelica Lost and Found is here.