Thursday, 18 November 2010
Chatwin Under the Sun
It is possible to quote some rather absurd passages, but usually Elizabeth has got there first with a wryly deflating footnote. And there are some unexpected moments, such as his discomfort at emerging as "a writer" in the 1980s, a role, relished by his friend Salman Rushdie, but one that he hated. He didn't want to be lionised, televised, invited to review books and so forth. He just wanted to disappear and write his next book. There are contradictions of course. He was televised. He did court the rich and famous and his friends always seemed to have been utterly exceptional in his estimation, the dull and the pedestrian members of the population never seemingly coming to his attention. But one day he had a group of writers around to lunch at his Oxfordshire home and found their noisy, shrill posturing unbearable: "a lot of egos sounding off, but we were able to open the windows so all the talk blew out over the sheep..."
And I can forgive him everything for writing: "With so many 'cooked-up' books knocking around, I don't really believe in writing unless one has to."