Writing Talk: Conversations with top writers of the last fifty years
Author: Alex Hamilton
Publisher: Matador (December 1, 2012)
In his long career in literary journalism, Alex Hamilton has probably met and talked in depth to more of our great writers than anyone else, from the most critically acclaimed to the most hard-nosed bestsellers, from novelists to cartoonists, and in every genre, from Thrillers and Whodunnits to Short Stories, from Poetry to Science Fiction.
This selection from a life’s work gives us a stimulating and rare insight into the minds and lives of some of the most fascinating creators of our modern culture. Its a book that contains many surprises in the revelations given by some of the authors about their struggles and victories, the serious or humorous commitments made by them, and their addiction to the kind of fiction they like to write.
It features 85 authors including Kurt Vonnegut, Angela Carter, Stephen King, Daphne du Maurier, Ian
McEwan, Jorge Luis Borges, Graham Greeneor or Margaret Atwood!
Splendidly informative and serious, Writing Talk is also often very funny: a book to dip into as the mood takes, or to dive into hungrily. It will appeal to those with a passion for books and for the people who have written them.
I’ve been fortunate to talk to so many marvelous writers. Gathering some of these conversations into a book, rather
than their brief life in a daily newspaper, offers a chance for readers to share my pleasure and to introduce a new
generation to some past greats ~ the author, Alex Hamilton.
It’s obvious that Alex Hamilton is an interviewer par excellence. He has managed to draw out so much from the writers. There’s something about the style of presentation that is so charming. You feel like you’re visiting with him and he’s talking about these authors he’s had the pleasure of meeting. He reports conversations and then gives you a background too.
The book is an absolute treasure trove. It gives you insights into the personalities of so many authors and a background into their books – the characters and stories created.
Sample this anecdote when Hamilton wanted to interview R K Narayan:
R K Narayan came to my home. It was his wish, but there were seventy-six stairs to climb.
“No lift, you say?”
“Alas, but the rent is therefore lower.”
I chatted him upward, but the great writer saved all his breath for the ascent. He was game, but seventy-two. Beyond the eternal snow line, where no carpet reached, I admitted that one extra flight remained before reaching my study.
“I can go no further.”
I could not interview on the stairs a man who many have said should have the Nobel Prize for literature. “Courage,” I said. “An armchair pines to recieve you.”
“No, no, I shall not sit down…………….”
I imagined him back in Mysore, telling outraged Tamil friends, “This fellow in London made me scale Everest to ask me a few silly questions, and now my knee is a football.”
I know I’ll be coming back again and again to this book to take in a little more of the conversations.
My rating: 4/ 5
Do read this article in The Guardian to get an interesting view of this book.
I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.