Allow me to be star-struck.

This evening, the Divine L and I are attending a talk by one of my favourite living writers: Michael Ondaatje. And I'm getting ever so extremely excited.

Although I'm not entirely sure that I should be.

Margaret Attwood - well known for her dislike of meet-and-greet situations - once said that "wanting to meet a writer because you like their books is like wanting to meet a duck because you like pâté". I suppose I can understand what she's getting at, but surely her analogy's all wrong. If you like pâté... and if you're interested in food... what's wrong with wanting to meet the chef?

I've been an admirer of Ondaatje's work ever since my heart and head were thrown into a spin during a train journey along the south coast of England which I spent reading The English Patient. (I actually happened to be passing Westbury when I reached the section in the novel where Kip is near the chalk horse... a coincidence slightly too odd for words.) I've read all his other novels, including his latest - Divisadero - which I found beautifully hypnotic. I consider him to be an author whose greatness merits the capital letters in Great Author. I can feel myself coming over all giggly and six-year-old-ish at the thought of maybe being able to go up to him to ask him to sign my book. But another part of me is wondering if I should curb this enthusiasm.

Maybe wanting to meet a writer really is a case of focussing your emotions in the wrong place. Maybe Attwood's point is that once a writer has produced a book, they no longer contain its charms within their person. In relation to the book, they are a cadaver... in the same way that a duck is dead in relation to the pâté it 'helped' produce. Maybe it isn't right to attach some undefinable, almost mystical importance to one person about whom, really, I know next to nothing.

Or maybe this is precisely my problem: that whenever I begin to get excited - say, about an idea for a novel - a voice in my head (always rather haughty, always terribly English) tells me that this simply will not do. "Do please try to restrain yourself" etc etc.

But... no... not this evening, darn it. I WILL get carried way. I WILL leap up the escalators at Warren Street tube station. I WILL try to get a seat as close to the front as possible.

"And what if he turns out to be a disappointment, dear boy?"

Shut up!


Lorraine said…
Now I'll have to read him. (Hated English Patient as a movie, btw, but that's really not fair for judging a writer, now is it).

Have a fabulous time.
Dariush Alavi said…
You hated The English Patient??!?! Ooooh... that's a black mark against Seattle. Quick: post a recipe for some really sinful dessert. That way you might get back into my good books ;-)

The evening was wonderful, thanks. I'm planning to upload a little write-up of it within the next few days.
Lorraine said…
I didn't hate ALL of it. The bits with Juliette Binoche and Naveen Andrews. Perhaps I just couldn't get over the idea that someone would choose Ralph Fiennes over Colin Firth. Clearly, I have issues with suspension of disbelief.

I'd best start digging through the recipe archives, eh?
Dariush Alavi said…
No, I'll let you off... just this once. You might enjoy the book though: it fleshes out the Hannah/Kip sections quite considerably.
Lorraine said…
Well, in that case, I'm all over it.

I shall report back once I've read it.

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