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Bury My Heart At W. H. Smith’s

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Язык: Английский
Год издания: 2018 год
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      Bury My Heart At W. H. Smith’s
Brian Aldiss

A most entertaining volume of memoir from a legend of science fiction.A writer’s life can be exciting, unexpected, routine, lonely – and sometimes all on the same day! Brian Aldiss recounts the highs and lows of his professional career in this entertaining and revealing book.Here are his adventures with publishers, booksellers, agents, other authors, and readers. Here are some of the complex questions of what makes and sustains a successful modern writer. The tales he tells are wry, witty, informative – beginning with his first job at the Oxford bookshop that was to be the setting for his first book of fiction, The Brightfount Diaries, and ending as he undergoes one of the most gruelling experiences of a writer’s life: the publication of a new novel, in this case his brilliant Forgotten Life.

BRIAN ALDISS

Bury My Heart at W. H. Smith’s

Although these pages necessarily

exclude the family

they are dedicated

to the family

and in particular

to

WENDY and MARK

Contents

Title Page (#uc8634f2d-0806-52df-84c3-c8de1cf576bc)

Dedication (#u4675cb4c-85a2-5fb9-be78-9c2cd02a20a4)

Introduction (#uc4cc7ee7-de02-5c28-98ad-88b1e68fcad3)

Apéritif: Bury My Heart at W. H. Smith’s (#ue28d4443-9e58-5ca3-a23d-ca05fde7446b)

1 My First Editor (#uc39cd61d-8089-524c-bac7-89ac00e33c84)

2 Three Pounds a Week (#ud422e6bc-92fc-5ed9-854a-5511731735a8)

3 Vienna Steak, Heinz Salad Cream (#u399fdc45-84b6-56f2-8bf3-a37db82cc566)

4 Imaginary Diaries (#ub4031924-c0a6-556e-afaf-fb0398feba40)

5 Elegy for Minor Poets (#ue94e5cc2-a1cc-5634-bb09-874e67ff7cfb)

6 Recuperation: a Brief Chapter (#u60f4a6fa-ed51-5bb7-b312-b676b0775dd5)

7 In the Big Spaceship (#uda332b5f-e4b6-525d-abc5-89c2464d2566)

8 Following in SPB’s Footsteps (#litres_trial_promo)

9 I Dream Therefore I Become (#litres_trial_promo)

10 Helping Writers – and Otherwise (#litres_trial_promo)

11 An Evening in London, a Weekend in Nottingham (#litres_trial_promo)

12 White Hopes, Black Olives (#litres_trial_promo)

13 Wandering Scholars (#litres_trial_promo)

14 Critic in a Jacuzzi (#litres_trial_promo)

15 Stubbs Soldiers On (#litres_trial_promo)

16 Medan, Malacia, Ermalpa, Avernus (#litres_trial_promo)

17 From Oxford to Italy (#litres_trial_promo)

18 Charivari (#litres_trial_promo)

Appendix: The Brood of Mary, by Nicholas Ruddick (#litres_trial_promo)

Works Cited (#litres_trial_promo)

About the Author (#litres_trial_promo)

Copyright (#litres_trial_promo)

About the Publisher (#litres_trial_promo)

Introduction

Here’s a report on writing life and the book trade before computers and electronics took over the literary world; before the flowering of Twitter and microblogging.

Bury My Heart at W. H. Smith’s was first published in 1990. I had completed it in some haste, since I was due to work with Stanley Kubrick on a proposed film. The pressure was on to find a title. Standing at Paddington Station, I saw a revolving wire rack filled with paperbacks for sale. In the bottom bracket I found a grubby copy of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, Dee Brown’s Indian history of the American West. Almost instantly I said to myself, ‘Oh yes, of course. Bury My Heart at W. H. Smith’s! Yes, that would be fun.’

At the time, W. H. Smith’s did not like my title and failed to stock the book.

Well, so much for them. Re-reading the text after almost twenty-five years, I find myself charmed and amused by its unbounded enthusiasms. Also, surprised – revived, in fact! Ah, the people I knew. Ah, my meteoric rise into obscurity!

So here it is, still warm from the oven, a recipe book of a young writer’s life: serious, yes, but also jolly, and juicy with anecdotes and personalities. A rumbustious pleasure of a book, bursting with zeal, angst and hope.

Brian Aldiss

Oxford, 2012

Apéritif

Bury My Heart at W. H. Smith’s

The train was crossing India from west to east. It ran steadily over the wide Ganges plain, from Agra towards Jamalpur, the weight of the brilliant day bearing down upon its carriages. I stared out of the window, stared and stared, absorbed in the landscape.

Nothing was to be seen but the wastes of the plain and the sky above it. A tree, a thatched hut, stood here or there, as pallid as the earth itself. In that dry season, there was no sign of the river; it had dwindled like a shrivelled limb.

Peasants worked on the plain, sometimes near the tracks, sometimes distantly. Unlike the peasants of China, these were isolated one from another. The sun had burned them hollow. They toiled almost naked. Some stood upright, working with hoes, while others were bent double. They appeared motionless, like figures on a frieze.

And they laboured on the plain every day of their lives.

Monotony was their lot. How did a man’s thoughts run, out there on the baked mud? What would he have to tell at sunset?

‘I was up before dawn and took a handful of rice. Then I worked, as you know. It was hot. Nothing grows. Now I shall rest. It’s dark. I will sleep …’

That terrible monotony, as stern a ruler as the sun. Ever since infancy I had feared reincarnation when, at the age of three, I was convinced I had been a wizard burned at the stake in a previous incarnation; the agony of the fire often woke me, crying. What was there to prevent me from awakening next time as a peasant, bound to the Ganges?

To survive as an Indian peasant requires endurance born of centuries of fatalistic courage, passive acceptance, qualities scarce in the unsleeping West.

Those days on the train were ones in which my determination to be a writer developed. I wished to tell everyone about that alien way of life. I had my subject matter. What I did not realise was that I also had the stubborn temperament a writer requires.

A glance at the list of titles I have written since those Indian days shows a preoccupation with time. From Space, Time and Nathaniel, to Non-Stop, through Moment of Eclipse and Eighty-Minute Hour, to Seasons in Flight and Forgotten Life, the idea of passing time glides like a serpent through the words.

Of course it was never planned that way. It just happened, as much in life happens. Perhaps I have a problem with my time sense.
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