John, you’ve got a lot of credit at the bank with me. I loved Whoops! and the various attendant LRB articles that surrounded it. They were stylistically great as much as anything else: easy, intelligent, with a sharp ear for a neatly turned thought and phrase. I learnt a lot.
And I remember liking The Debt to Pleasure a lot when I read it all those years ago. I’ve got that one about Shanghai lying around on my shelves – I haven’t read it yet (it was a present, I never get round to presents), but I’m keen to read it at some point.
So you’ll readily understand my consternation when I found out that your latest novel Capital was about a disparate set of people living and working in close proximity to each other. I tire of this premise! The close physical juxtaposition of different fates and fortunes feels like a concept loaded in favour of the author. It’s not stretching far for its rewards, and feels heavily freighted with tacit ‘messages’. I’m sure it’ll be better than that! You’re a good writer. No, no, don’t thank me.
I did just read the first sentence tho:
At first light on a late summer morning, a man in a hooded sweatshirt moved softly and slowly along an ordinary-looking street in South London.
No one but a writer could have written that sentence could they? I think it’s the hooded sweatshirt.
Softly and slowly… ordinary-looking street…
Don’t worry. I’ma pour me a beer tho and sit down with it later. See how it goes. I’m sure it’s going to be great.
Thanks for the chat, John. Can you pick up the tab? I’m a bit short.