RESPONSES TO ‘PASSION FOR BEGINNERS’
(The only comment I the author would like to make re what you can read below, is that all the reader responses I have had for my 10th novel are from women. I have had nil feedback whatever from any man.I was very grateful to get all of the comments, the critical ones as well as those full of generous praise. I was also touched that my readers were from all over the world…)
Joanna King, New Zealand writer living Austria
You are very adept at handling various story threads, creating interest. The only thing I would dare to say is that I miss a bit, at the beginning, the riotously baroque language you employ in your blogs. But I know how difficult it is to set out your scenery, as it were, to get the necessary information across at the beginning
Mary Adams, London
So alive and vivid and immediate and real and funny and sad and characterful and jaunty. And I want to know the next bit!
Ione Murray, Leeds
(Of Chapter 1) Fucking excellent!
(Of those chapters with a lot of sex in them) I wish I could unread them!
Ali Parker Jarvis, Lincoln
Well, I liked the spicy parts!
Lizzie Morrison, writer, Cumbria
Your characters are so vivid. Good job, marra!
Frances Gapper, writer living UK Midlands
The characters are fantastic, especially Marty. And your voice and narrative style – easy and free-ranging, but also thoughtful – are so distinctive. I love its free-ranging anecdotal style, uproarious yet sensitive and insightful. Since you asked for women’s comments on your women characters, I’d say that although the narrator perceives women (apart from his wife and daughter) first and foremost in terms of their sexual nature, i.e. how sexy or non-sexy they are, their characters are also detailed and believable.
The last chapter is stark, plainly told and very moving.
Maria Angelica Almeida, Bahia, Brazil
I didn’t like your book very much, sorry. The characters are unconvincing (no self-life at all) and the narrator remains covered behind his excessive ironies and comedies. I think the confessional style requires a genuine truthful account of inner life. Of course there are many good insights and you are the brightest of writers with the language: I wish I could do just a bit of the same with my Portuguese.
I remember you told me about a novel you intend to write with animals talking about all kind of things. Have you read ‘Coloquio de Los Perros’ by Cervantes? Pure genius and I thought of you.
Monica Shama, London
I am of course aware that all your books have featured you in a big way, I would have to be really blinkered not to have realised that. The difference for me is that there was significant fictional content in your previous books, and I couldn’t really see that in this one, it seemed to be more of a memoir and was all about you. I remember you asking me not to read ‘Kin’ from 1986, and saying that you wished it hadn’t been published, as it was too autobiographical and you weren’t happy it was in the public domain. Obviously the actual writing in this book is very good, but I found it a bit repetitive, and you ended each chapter with some kind of sweeping statement; it read a bit too much like your blog. You kept on reminding the reader that it was about people’s unexpected behaviour, once would have been enough… I also felt that the characters of the women were not really developed, they seemed to be there just for one thing, sex. And I’m sorry, but I didn’t like the so called spicy parts. It seemed as if you had really rushed the last two chapters and couldn’t wait to be finished with it.
Having said all that, I want to say that I really hope it does well and that you get some positive feedback both from your friends and the agents!
Sorry, I really wanted to love this book. I know how hard you worked on it and think it is great that you are writing again.
Ginny Callaway, Maryland USA
I’m enjoying your autobiographical novel, & impressed with your writing skills.I particularly like it when you wax philosophical as in Chapter 12, remarking on the mysteries in what attracts certain people to a particular other, and when you remark on how every human being has qualities lovable to another. Our culture is so obsessed with youth, beauty, and material things, I find your outlook to be a breath of fresh air.
The next paragraph speaks about out human inclination to have our tiny egos micromanage our fate, when these decisions the wise would leave in God’s hands. As you said ” be careful what you wish for”.