WHO pens the most honest blog about a writer’s life? There’s quite a lot of competition, but the one Matt Haig writes for Book Trust must be in there with a shout.
Why? Because in it he says things that few writers dare. Although Kurt Vonnegut graded his own work and freely admitted that novels such as Breakfast of Champions and Slapstick were below par, few writers are quite so candid. Yet in his blog Haig is quite happy to admit, for example, that his novel The Possession of Mr Cave was a mistaken attempt to write the kind of literary fiction that impresses critics.
Something else that you seldom hear is any writer complaining that his publishers and publicists have got behind the wrong book. That’s almost as rare as hearing a writer bemoan their novel’s success. Yet in his blog, both of these rarities occur within the same paragraph.
“When The Radleys did well, I suffered my first bout of depression in years. I sat in a chair doing nothing but feel worthless for three months. (“It’s the wrong book. They’ve got behind the wrong book…”)
The right book, the one that most reflects his talents, is out in a fortnight. It’s called The Humans and is a hilarious story of an alien who comes to earth as a Cambridge mathematician with a dysfunctional family. I’ve got a feeling it’s going to do very well indeed.
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Is there anyone out there who can help Oscar Goodman, the Mafia’s preferred defence lawyer and and three-time mayor of Las Vegas? Reading his memoir, Being Oscar – out next month from Perseus Books – you’d wonder whether he really needs any help at all, so wide-ranging are his contacts. He’s not shy about pointing this out: five minutes after taking a call from President Clinton congratulating him on becoming mayor, for example, he took one from “Manny Baker, the heroin kingpin”.
For all that, though, Goodman admits that he’s struck out on the thing that his wife Carolyn would like more than anything. Despite coming to London any number of times, they have still to meet the Queen.
So if any of our readers can swing it with Her Maj, here’s the deal: “I’ll arrange a game of pool with Prince Harry the next time he’s in Las Vegas if you can set up a courtsey for Caroline.”
Sounds absolutely fair to me. Any takers?