Saturday, 11 July 2009

Writing in an Age of Silence


Verso have just published a paperback edition of Sara Paretsky’s Writing in an Age of Silence, which first came out a couple of years back. Paretsky is, of course, the creator of that notable gumshoe V.I.Warshawski, who was brought to the screen by Kathleen Turner (I haven’t seen the movie, but some reports suggest it didn’t match the quality of the books.)

It is a short book, well summed up by P.D. James in ‘The Spectator’: ‘This poignant and compelling personal testimony explains both the influences that made her a writer and the kind of writer she became.’ James is by instinct a conservative, and Paretsky is a radical feminist, but despite their political differences, writing is clearly a bond which unites them. And so it should be.

This book was written before the election of Barack Obama and it may be that Paretsky’s view of American politics would be a little different if she were starting the book today. There may also be too much here about American politics to appeal to some British readers. But I like this sentence in particular:

‘Because my own great comfort comes from other writers’ words, my hope is that my stories may also bring readers some solace in the night, provide some lamplight on a darkened path.’

Most writers, whether of crime or any other form of fiction, would probably feel the same.

4 comments:

seanag said...

Yes, I'm a fan of both writers as mystery writers--they both are somewhere near the very top of my list, and it's heartening that the writing forms a connection that at least temporarily overrides politics.

This slim book of essays came into our store a few weeks ago now--I'm intrigued as to what Paretsky has to say, although as you mention, the times, though economically and in other ways challenging, do not seem quite so dark these days.

bookwitch said...

Martin and Seana, I think Sara still finds a lot that worries her, even with Obama as President. You may want to follow her blog http://saraparetsky.wordpress.com/
which I pushed her to start. I find it fascinating to read what she has to say on life in America. And there are snippets of fiction from time to time.

seanag said...

Thank you, Bookwitch. I will definitely check that out.

Martin Edwards said...

Thanks, Bookwitch. I must check it out.