Tuesday, October 17, 2006

John Mortimer on books and writers

Last week I ran an item pointing to a London Times article on how and where eight famous writers go about their craft. I reprinted William Boyd's story, and Jeff Pierce ran an item on John Mortimer's.

I've since come across an entertaining 2002 interview with Mortimer which included these observations:
Graham Greene complained once that writing made his eyes tired. I asked if that was because of staring at the pages for so long. 'No,' he said, 'watching your characters going about their business, crossing rooms and so on.'


There was a wonderful obscenity case about a book called The Mouth and Oral Sex. Margaret Drabble gave evidence to the effect that after the Bible and Shakespeare, this was the one book she'd take to a desert island. In his summing up, the judge asked her why we needed oral sex when 'we've gone without it for a thousand years'. Jeremy Hutchinson, defending, began his speech to the jury: 'Poor His Lordship! Poor, poor His Lordship! Gone without oral sex for a thousand years!' The book was acquitted.


There's more of yourself in a book than a play. That's why we know all about Dickens and not much about Shakespeare. Ben Jonson murdered people; Marlowe was a spy; Shakespeare just sat in the corner and took notes.

--Marshal Zeringue