I’m going to have to give up this blogging business. American author Philip Roth, in an interview with the Guardian, has called for a “100-year moratorium on insufferable literary talk”. Supporting his nomination for World’s Grumpiest Writer (currently neck and neck with Tom Wolfe), he refuses to smile for the camera, insists he never smiles unless alone, continues to not smile, and says he wishes he could:
“shut down all literature departments, close the book reviews, ban the critics. The readers should be alone with the books, and if anyone dared to say anything about them, they would be shot or imprisoned right on the spot. Yes, shot.”
He can’t be blamed entirely for sounding solemn – the interviewer, Danish journalist Martin Krasnik, focuses on death and the fear of dying. But clearly the writing life is tragic, so I’ll have to give up on that as well:
It’s a horrible existence being a writer filled with deprivation. I don’t miss specific people, but I miss life. I didn’t discover that during the first 20 years, because I was fighting – in the ring with the literature. That fight was life, but then I discovered that I was in the ring all by myself.
Quite possibly, everyone else was too frightened to get in there with him.