A couple of days ago the book “The novels of Henry James” by Edward Wagenknecht arrived at my door. My dictation software really lost a tooth and an eye over getting the last name right…and when am I ever likely to use that name again? This makes me realize how glorious our brain is, how it is most generously keeping track of masses of irrelevant but gratifying detail, detail that we might need at some juncture or we might not, but especially for writers this wastefulness when archiving is one of the less celebrated treasures of our nature. The quote in the picture, from “A Small Boy And Others” (a 3rd person memoir of James’ early years) was one of the first sections that I found myself reading aloud in the bathtub (which is where I like to read critical works) and it immediately sparked off a useful little story. I won’t tell you about my story: it goes into the dark cave where most of my writing/dictating disappears these days. If I can be bothered it is printed out and filed in a black folder as nameless as this time of my life. The image itself seems to be part of the series of portraits of writers that I feel compelled to draw or paint on. It seems to me as if these meta-drawings might bring out something that’s there but that wasn’t as visible before but I might totally delude myself in which case it still remains a fun exercise in doing something else than write without going too far away from the purple vein of pulsating prose.
Click here for my reading of the text (MP3, 1’17”) — reviewed by Laurence Raw at “Radio Drama Reviews“. Image: modified charcoal drawing of Henry James by James Singer Sargent— Text: A Small Boy and Others (1913)