PD Smith

Classics and writuals

26 April 2008 | Science & literature, Vonnegut, Writing & Poetry | Post a comment

Penguin have reissued Kurt Vonnegut's cold war classic Cat's Cradle. If you haven't read it, then now's your chance. Benjamin Kunkel's new introduction is online at the Guardian. Here's a taster:

"It is a funny and despairing vision of the last judgment done in comic-book style, and Vonnegut's modesty as an artist combines with his dismay as a man to prevent him from lavishing too much careful portraiture on people not long for a world that's about to crack up anyway. It arrives like the punch line to one of Vonnegut's jokes when you realise that the most realistic feature of Cat's Cradle is the idea of a technology capable of destroying civilisation in a day."

Also in the Guardian this weekend are two of my reviews of new non-fiction paperbacks that are well worth reading too: When Life Nearly Died: The Greatest Mass Extinction of All Time, by Michael J Benton; and Mind, Life and Universe: Conversations with Great Scientists of our Time, edited by Lynn Margulis and Eduardo Punset. The latter offers a wonderful antidote to nightmares of mad scientists creating ice-nine type superweapons... You can read them here.

A couple of other links that have caught my eye. An intriguing piece in The American Scholar by Brian Boyd - biographer of Nabokov - on "The Art of Literature and the Science of Literature".

And an amusing piece on how writers write:

"Virginia Woolf, George Bernard Shaw and Roald Dahl did it in sheds at the bottom of the garden. Shaw's desk was famously on castors, so he could turn it throughout the day to get maximum light. Dahl even had one of his own hip bones sitting on the desk. Every writer will have their own ritual."

So what are your "Writuals"?

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