80 years ago Samuel Beckett’s publisher rejected his short story “Echo’s Bones” because it gave him the “jim-jams.” The 13,500-word piece on the afterlife was intended for More Pricks Than Kicks until his editor Charles Prentice claimed, “People will shudder and be puzzled and confused; and they won’t be keen on analysing the shudder.” Fortunately, it will finally be published by Faber and Faber on April 17.
Freedom the program might not actually be so freeing: “It has been argued that a chronic fever of distraction and fascination arrives on waves of Wi-Fi to stunt our attention spans, encouraging writers to paddle about, tweeting and liking, instead of striking out for deeper waters…” But maybe writers need distraction, after all. (Then again: a detox might do you good.)
“Although comfortable with solitude, he admits: ‘I couldn’t write all the time. As a writer, you have to come out into the world. I don’t have a Salinger or a Pynchon impulse. There are so many things to do that are interesting.’” Talking with Ian McEwan.