Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Rec. #13: Loitering with Intent
What: Loitering with Intent is a novel about a novel. It is very funny, very dry, and very loosely autobiographical. The story begins with Fleur Talbot working as the secretary for the Autobiographical Association while she finishes her first novel, Warrender Chase. When her employer filches the manuscript, scenes from the book start coming true. Soon, members of the association want very badly to see the book destroyed. Muriel Spark manages to make the fictitious manuscript Warrender Chase the riveting focus without actually including excerpts from it. This proves to be an excellent strategy.*
Comparable to: For some reason, I have a slight tendency to confuse Spark with A.S. Byatt. This is odd because the two authors really are not very similar. If anything, Spark's style is more like that of Byatt's sister, Margaret Drabble.
Representative quote: "The memoirs written by the members of the Autobiographical Association, although none had got beyond the first chapter, already had a number of factors in common. One of them was nostalgia, another was paranoia, a third was a transparent craving on the part of the authors to appear likable."
You might not like it if: Thrillers about people stealing manuscripts don't thrill you.
How to get it: There are several different editions floating around out there in libraries and bookstores. None of them have good covers.
*Note to writers: When one of your characters is supposed to be a very talented author, it is never a good idea to include examples of that character's writing. The reader's response is, inevitably, "Eh." (Also, it is kind of like boasting, and no one likes that.)