The Canadian Writers' Collective

Writing, and writerly tangents

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Writing and/or Life: Orhan Pamuk and Lisa Moore


By Anne Chudobiak

If you, like me, read Orhan Pamuk's Nobel lecture with some despair in your doctor's waiting room, arms tucked to decrease exposure to outside contagion, as though you yourself hadn't spent a good part of the weekend on the floor, clutching your belly and making retching sounds your toddler would later reproduce for your amusement to the tune of "In Excelsis Gloria," then you might want to pick up a copy of Writing Life, the most recent collection of essays from PEN Canada, a human rights association not unfamiliar with the latest literary laureate, who faced criminal charges in 2005 after publicly implicating his native Turkey in the Kurdish and Armenian genocides.

The highest profile piece in Writing Life comes to us courtesy of Alice Munro, who at seventy-five declares herself ready to give up on the craft, because of the interruptions, by which I presume she means both the stomach flu and "In Excelsis Gloria." If you, like me, are at an early stage in your career and family life, you might be wise to pass this one over in favour of Lisa Moore's "Yolk," which reads like an antidote to Pamuk's lecture, where writing is likened to withdrawing from the world: "The starting point of true literature is the man who shuts himself up in his room with his books."

Therefore this song we have in mind:
In Excelsis Gloria.

To quote Moore: "I want life─and here I'm thinking of Mrs. Ramsay's dinner table, Minta Doyle all flushed and trippingly late, her lost brooch, first love, the lid on the French stew, all of the children, the salt shaker, the seashells and open windows[...]I want all that and to be able to write it down at the same time." Or at least, some days I do.

Public Service Announcement: In keeping with one of Canada's least favourite literary traditions, The New Quarterly is closed to submissions until September 2007. Check out their website for more discouraging news.

Pictured: Orhan Pamuk or "Grandpa," as he is known around our house

5 Comments:

Blogger Tricia Dower said...

I love this, Anne. Full of such good stuff. I did read Pamuk's Nobel lecture but not in a doctor's waiting room.(Poor you!) I was disappointed that he didn't find more to like in his father's writing. Thanks for the link to the New Quarterly article. Great to see what Kim Jernigan looks like. She's wonderful to work with.

Thu Jan 11, 09:16:00 pm GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for the lecture link, it is indeed dismal for the extrovert...now I must find "Yolk".

Fri Jan 12, 07:05:00 pm GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I forgot to sign....Jen

Fri Jan 12, 07:05:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Patricia said...

thanks Anne, you have such a way about you that's so charming and real, will check out these links, I think.....xo

Sat Jan 13, 01:26:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Antonios Maltezos said...

Now that's what I call a great opening sentence, Anne! I love the quote by Moore. Is it really possible to have it all, plus the writing life? Or, you shut yourself up in a room, for years and years, and then find yourself lured away by the simple distractions you've been missing out on. I was kinda hoping I'd find myself sitting in my soiled diapers at a ripe old age, ignored, left totally alone with my writing. I guess I should prepare, live every day to the fullest for now.

Tue Jan 16, 09:15:00 am GMT-5  

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