Friday, 20 June 2014

Who are today's good writers?


Who are the good writers writing today whom I haven't heard of?

Jonathan Meades is probably a very good writer. He is only known to me from a television programme he made years ago about modern architecture where he visited a modern church and described its architectural style - it might have been Catholic or Protestant and was built in the universal modern style, meaning white, bare, and the unstained glass let in plenty of light. 
He said it embodied the idea of 
'God the unmighty, God the ever such a nice bloke'. 
I thought that was brilliant. It is at 1 minute, 56 seconds on this clip.

(By the way, there is no theological reason, as far as I know, why modern churches are not dark and gloomy. I think, to quote Iris Murdoch, that they let too much light in on mystery.)

Here in Romania there is a wonderful novelist called Mircea Cartarescu whom I heard on Monday say that the universe is one thing and we are all its eyes. He is a genius.

I am very out of touch because away from my country for fifteen years. When i was in England ideas were constantly being bounced off me. Here in Romania nothing of the sort happens because I am a foreigner in a country where I only half understand the language, even though I am fluent - and also because the internet takes up the time I once spent on books and on TV so I do not read much. Television which I haven't watched for at least ten years is terribly valuable -it keeps you in touch with reality. The internet does not, because the internet lets you choose what to read.


  1. "Who are the good prose writers writing today?" Well, Johnathan Miller is not bad and Clive James is good - but he, alas, is terminally ill . Much modern prose seems to be written by a Bulgarian 'Speak your weight' machine and translated into English by Babelfish. As for the ghastly dross that flows out of the cloaca that is most University departments of English, Philosophy, Gender Studies etc, well it's best to shudder and move on.

    I recieved an unsolicited email yesterday offering to help me and my colleagues learn 'How to Write Specialist Information for Non-Specialists [Masterclass]'. The email included wonders of grammar such as a sentence that concluded; “when detailing information they are unfamilar with.” The gibberish continues with the phrase “Ideal deal for specialists” – what do you think this means? The conclusion was “This course will be facilitated by Amanda Bausor, writing specialist with a programme accredited by the 'Recommended by the Plain English Campaign', and experienced trainer with a distinguished clientele across sectors including the Prime Minister's Correspondence Unit and the military.” All this joy for only £575 + vat per diem!

    Of course the real horror is that someone, somewhere could allow this stuff to be published to the wider world.


  2. "Who are the good prose writers writing today whom I haven't heard of? " If you don't give us a list of those you have heard of, how can we identify the one's you haven't? There are known unknowns and unknown unknowns, but without knowns we can't know the unknowns.
    And, of course, they have to be good prose writers. You have to identify which of the two following words "good" refers. Recall Jeeves, Bertie Wooster and the tailor. Wooster is wearing a suit of which Jeeves disapproves. Bertie explains it was recommended by his tailor. "He is said to be a very good tailor, Jeeves". "I have nothing against the gentleman's morals, Sir."