Saturday, February 03, 2007

Scribbling on a wall

It started as an experiment, and while it still is in many regards, I find myself quite addicted. To, ehm. This. This doodling and dabbling and vaguely contemplating on an imaginary wall that is growing more real. It appears to me as if I, we, are taking sips of writing as one would with wine. We sniff and smell and observe other word tasters. We let drops of words roll over our tongues, we take a thirsty gulp and choose our favourite bottle. Then, we quickly look up to see if other people think anything of our choice. It's different you see, writing by yourself or writing on a wall that is potentially public, a public secret, as in the Dutch expression publiek geheim. We're tasting words en plein publique and maybe we'll get better as we go.

Nicole Krauss got me thinking about writers all over again. I have this thing for writers who write about writing. They often do, in some way or another, end up talking about their own daily occupation. Boys will be boys; economists will talk about trade-offs and writers will write about writing. But. It's also helpful for anyone who wishes to learn a thing or two about the writing business.

Now Nicole, -I am sensing we are on a first-name basis-, does this marvelous thing were she brushes on a hundred thousand themes with all kinds of deep potential, including the Holocaust and Love and Growing Older and Death and Second Generation Migration, and all of these are just the background of a tale of an eighty-year old man named Leopold Gursky, who discovers the book he wrote and lost before anyone read it as a young man was published after all and changed a few people's lives. Each of Nicole's characters has personality, but more than that they have a great sense of humour that helps them face the aforementioned realities in capital letters with all their human clumsiness. Here's what Leopold says about writing:
"A couple of months after my heart attack, fifty-seven years after I'd given up, I started to write again. I did it for myself alone and not for anyone else, and that was the difference."

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