On the Writer’s Elusive Self

【转帖自:The Washington Post

Joyce Carol Oates Interviews Herself

By Joyce Carol Oates, Published: September 13

All right, let’s cut to it — our audience, curiosity whetted by the ubiquitous social media, wants avidly to know: What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you lately?

Do you mean as a “writer” — or just more generally?

Don’t be circumspect! Interest in you, at least minimal interest, derives from your being a “writer.”

Well — I was in the grocery store yesterday, in the dairy section, when a woman who’d been staring at me quizzically asked, “Are you some kind of writer?” Vaguely, I shook my head no, as if I might not have heard the question, and eased away without glancing back . . .

And then?

And then someone who knew me breezed by saying in a loud voice, “Hello, Joyce!” — and the woman must have overheard . . .

That is embarrassing! Denying your own writer-self, and even as the cock began to crow, someone comes along and outs you! Is this some kind of absurd modesty?

I could not explain to the woman: “I am not ‘Joyce Carol Oates’ right now, but a shopper in a grocery store. And the dairy section is freezing.”

If police had arrived and demanded your I.D., you’d have had to confess — what?

My driver’s license, passport, social security — are all in the name “Joyce Carol Smith.”

Why not “Oates”? Continue reading

Give Me Your Heart

Give Me Your Heart应该是美国作家乔伊斯·卡罗尔·欧茨最新短篇小说集了吧。这位超级多产的当代作家所涉猎的题材也是非常广泛。这个集子里所收录的是作者创作的神秘和悬疑小说。颇能代表南方哥特小说的风格特色。以下是《纽约时报》上的一篇书评介绍。感兴趣者不妨一读:

Reckless Abandon


In this story collection, Joyce Carol Oates, master of the American gothic, revisits territory she has long claimed as her own, a fictional realm where mild-mannered men turn into monsters and the maternal embrace is more often crushing than comforting. Her effusive, exclamatory prose can be — and has been — mocked, but there’s little doubt that Oates is a well-practiced storyteller. Too well practiced, perhaps: the impact of these precisely turned tales of violation and violence tends to be more mechanical than visceral.

Part of the problem is thematic. In story after story, a woman is childless (read frigid and controlling) or has given birth to a nasty piece of work. Girls are vulnerable, hurt by their fathers, looking for acceptance; and, in turn, they are murdered, transformed into objects of obsession or driven crazy. A woman’s bodily integrity is breached by rape or by pregnancy, by relinquishing her virginity or by nursing an infant.

“You entered my virginal body, you took from me my innocence, my youth, my very soul,” writes the woman at the center of the title story, which takes the form of a letter to the man who deflowered her 23 years earlier. Her rage remains fresh, yet there’s little sense of emerging danger or keen insight in her insistent narration. Instead, the story’s menace depends on typography, as if italics might turn overboiled sentences into something creepy rather than clichéd: “I have forgotten nothing . . . . While you, to your fatal disadvantage, have forgotten almost everything.”

Negligent, absent fathers disorient their daughters. In “Strip Poker” and “Nowhere,” fathers have been imprisoned for assault; in “Smother,” an emotionally distant father and an anxious mother cause a woman named Alva to recollect, or imagine, that they murdered her sister. Men and women engage in ceaseless warfare. “You did not love a man who didn’t inspire fear, though you might fear a man — many men — whom you did not love,” thinks a character in “The Spill.” In “Nowhere,” a teenage girl feels “weak with desire for the man, unless it was fear.”

Oates does deploy some original twists and suggestions of ambiguity, assets that emerge most forcefully in “Smother,” which is split between the fractured memories of Alva and the more collected viewpoint of her mother, Lydia, as she meets a pair of detectives in order to rebut Alva’s allegations. Initially, this device leads the reader to sympathize with Lydia: she’s a well-respected professor, Alva an itinerant artist’s model with a history of drug problems. Here and there, though, a destabilizing note emerges: the collection of pills in Lydia’s medicine cabinet, her deeply ambivalent feelings about motherhood. The story is wonderfully executed, and left tantalizingly unresolved.

Unfortunately, these moments are fleeting. Instead, one is struck by Oates’s infelicitous images and repetitions. Some are clearly meant to be resonant: the quarry at Sparta, the blue-collar town in upstate New York that makes regular appearances in her fiction, pops up several times, easy shorthand for downtrodden lives. But is there some deeper meaning to the fact that in three stories men are pointedly noted to have bands of fat settling around otherwise slender waists?

It’s disheartening, then, that the story that fits this collection’s pattern least, “Vena Cava,” also feels the most cynical. Here a grievously injured veteran returns from his third tour of combat duty in the “War Against Terror” feeling less than human. His body is filled with life-sustaining machinery and his hometown seems like a movie set — soon enough, a horror film. But as this sadly predictable story grinds to its conclusion, the response it engenders isn’t suspense or even a queasy disquiet; it’s a desire to get a desperate man’s cold march to a gory end over as quickly as possible.

Andrea Thompson is a freelance editor and writer.


1. 白丽尔·本布里奇(Beryl Bainbridge)在战后的英国文坛占有独特的一席之地。她擅长黑色幽默色彩的讽刺小说,代表了当今英国文坛与众不同的一种声音,因而广受尊敬。2010年8月初,本布里奇女士在伦敦病故,享年77岁。本布里奇女士原来是一位舞台演员。上个世纪60年代才正式进入文坛,发表了一系列带有浓重自传色彩的小说作品,描写了她在第二次世界大战期间及其之后一段时间艰辛成长的生活历程。


《平静的生活》(A Quiet Life 1976)

《小阿尔多夫》(Young Adolf 1978)

《人人为自己》(Every Man for Himself, 1996)

《昆尼说》(According to Queeney, 2001)

公元2000年,本布里奇女士曾被授予大英帝国二等女爵士称号。本布里奇女士曾于1976年接受《当代小说家》(Contemporary Novelists)杂志采访时说:“我坚信每个人都可以写书;我一直不明白他们为什么不能。无论如何,人人都说话。一旦学会了语法之后,剩下来的就是在纸上说话,并且适时地学会什么不该说而已”。

2. 威廉·戈尔丁(William Golding)这个名字应该是大家较为熟悉的一个英国作家的名字。事实上,当威廉·戈尔丁的《蝇王》(Lord of the Flies,1954)取代《麦田里的守望者》(The Catcher in the Rye)而成为美国青少年的必读宝典的时候,这并不是一件多么难以理解的事情。同样地,当我们发现戈尔丁的童年毫无快乐可言时,一切也都是可以理解的。在约翰·凯雷(John Carey)的传记《<蝇王>的作者:威廉·戈尔丁》(William Golding:The Man Who Written Lord of the Flies)是戈尔丁研究的一项最新成果。这部传记重点记述了1911年至1993年期间作家威廉·戈尔丁的生活和创作。尤其值得人们注意的是,这部传记向人们展示了戈尔丁鲜为人知的童年生活,因而也向人们揭示了小说《蝇王》背后所隐藏的秘密。 戈尔丁先生在世时是一个非常内向的人。他不愿意接受采访,也不想要有什么人去为他写什么传记。但是,现在看来,也许戈尔丁先生应该感到欣慰——因为凯雷先生真实地再现了他的生活,尤其是他的童年,从而使得今天的我们在敬仰戈尔丁先生的睿智和文笔的时候,也能够体会到作者戈尔丁本人的不幸童年,并对其表示几份同情和理解。。。

3. 《无良之国》(我猜可以这么译吧?!In Rough Country: Essays and Reviews)是美国当代最为著名的女作家之一,乔伊斯·卡罗尔·欧茨(Joyce Carol Oates)撰写的一部评论文集。据说在写作这些评论文章的时候,正值欧茨的丈夫雷蒙德·史密斯(Raymond Smith)隐患肺炎病逝(2008年2月)。没有人能够想象得出欧茨女士是如何克服巨大的心理创伤和悲痛,努力让文集中的这些文章保持前后一贯,让人觉察不出其中曾经有过长时间的因悲伤而无法下笔的间隙。

在欧茨的这部文集中收录了她的28篇评论文章和回顾杂谈。她在这部文集中的目的就是要描述出那些带有欺骗性的地点和人物。欧茨文章中涉及到的名家包括:弗兰纳里·奥康纳(Flannery O’Connor)、吉姆·克莱斯(Jim Crace)、玛格丽特·阿特伍德(Margaret Atwood)以及埃德加·艾伦·坡( Edgar Allan Poe),等等。当然,也有她自己。


A late-1950s New York minute: clockwise from far right, Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso (in cap), the painter Larry Rivers, Jack Kerouac and the musician David Amram.

4. 阿伦·金斯堡(Allen Ginsberg)和杰克·凯鲁亚克(Jack Kerouac)是上个世纪美国文坛垮掉派(the Beat Generation)的两位代表人物。长诗《嚎叫》和小说《在路上》所产生的影响绝不仅仅局限于他们的那个时代。近期出版的由比尔·摩根( Bill Morgan)和大卫·斯坦福(David Stanford)主持编辑的《金斯堡和凯鲁亚克书信集》(Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac: The Letters)是一份研究垮掉派文学的珍贵资料。通过这些书信,我们可以更加真切地触摸到那个特别的时代的特别的思想脉搏。。。

5. 威廉·萨默塞特·毛姆(William Somerset Maugham),英国著名的小说家、散文家。人们对这位作家的兴趣不仅仅在他的经典作品之上。作家的私生活也是爱好者们津津乐道的话题。毛姆研究专家赛琳娜·哈斯丁斯(Selina Hastings)的最新传记《萨默塞特·毛姆的秘密生活》(The Secret Lives of Somerset Maugham:A Biography)正是从私生活这个角度再现了作家毛姆生活中其他侧面,披露了很多过去鲜为人知的事实。同时,赛琳娜·哈斯丁斯在她的最新研究成果中也纠正了一些人们对于这位大作家的错误认识,揭露这些错误认识的根源。哈斯丁斯的这部毛姆传记对于我们阅读毛姆、研究毛姆都将大有裨益。

6. In addition to publishing six books of poetry as well as eight of cultural history and criticism, Geoffrey O’Brien is the editor in chief of the Library of America, whose handsome, authoritative volumes now more or less constitute the nation’s literary canon. But however central the novelist Mansfield Tracy Walworth (1830-73) may be to O’Brien’s crackerjack new history of one family’s mayhem, it seems safe to say that he will not soon be joining Welty, Wharton and Whitman at the right-hand reaches of the Library’s long, august shelf. n books like “Lulu” and “Warwick” and “The Mission of Death,” Walworth added purple prose, foot fetishism and idealized projections of himself to what O’Brien calls “a staggering slovenliness” about plotting. Even at the age of 12, Walworth was described as having “a haughty, arrogant nature and an ill-regulated mind,” and his upstate New York neighbors didn’t seem to be shocked when he grew up into a violent brute of a husband. Indeed, the real surprise in “The Fall of the House of Walworth” is that Mansfield’s pivotal role in the family chronicle should be not as a murderer but as a corpse.

Rules of Writing【续一】

【mabokov按】BTR最近在他的《看得见风景的房间》里翻译介绍了《卫报》上的名作家谈写作戒律的文字。这里是BTR贴出的另外四位作家的写作戒 律。现转贴于此与大家分享。

乔伊斯·卡罗尔·欧兹 Joyce Carol Oates








安妮·普鲁 Annie Proulx






扎迪·史密斯 Zadie Smith








8。确保你用来写作的时间和空间。 把其他人赶出去,甚至那些对你而言最重要的人。


乔纳森·弗兰岑 Jonathan Franzen



3。永远不要用“然后”(then)作为——连词——我们有“而”(and)作此用途。代之以“然后”,是懒惰或音盲的作家对于一页上有太多“而” 这问题的没有办法的办法。









Elmer Kelton in 2003

Elmer Kelton in 2003

1. 埃尔默·凯尔顿(Elmer Kelton)是一位用传统美国西部风格来描写现代德克萨斯油田和饱受金融问题困扰的农场的小说家。是一位典型的地域作家。在他创作的小说作品中,绝大多数有着相同的地域背景。他是一位非常高产的作家,一生创作出版了60多部作品,这其中也包括他为介绍德克萨斯的艺术家们的艺术类书籍而撰写的文本。2009年8月22日,凯尔顿先生在德克萨斯州的圣安杰罗去世,享年83岁。凯尔顿的一生,无论是创作还是生活,都和德克萨斯有着不可分割的联系。也许在未来我们研究的美国文学史中会有他的一席之地。或者,他至少会和德克萨斯一起进入人们的视野。更详细的介绍,请看这里

2. 诗歌体的小说:那也许可算作是叙事诗(史诗);小说体的诗歌:如果不是虚妄不实的褒扬之词的话,除了是信口胡诌、胡说八道,实在想不出是个什么东西。不但如此,就连所谓的“讲述诗歌故事的小说”都被认为是几乎不可能完成的任务。仅仅说那是一种假设,人们也觉得有点勉强。不过,作家尼科尔森·贝克(Nicholson Baker)却真的创作出版了一部真正讲述诗歌故事的小说《文集编撰者》(The Anthologist)。小说的主人公保罗·乔德尔(Paul Chowder)是一位还算成功的诗人。人到中年,讲述的都是有关诗歌事情。据说还是很有意思的。关于作家贝克,《纽约时报》上有很多有关的评论和访谈。感兴趣的可以点开这里看看。

3. 丹·布朗(Dan Brown)的新作《迷失的符号》(The Lost Symbol)掀起了一股图书销售狂潮。让布朗的读者和粉丝们欢欣鼓舞。我不是个喜欢追逐时髦读者。可是我也跟风整理了一篇相关的介绍在这里

4. 加拿大著名女作家玛格丽特·阿特伍德(Margaret Atwood )真不愧为高产作家。最近又推出了她今年的新作《无水洪灾》(The Year of the Flood,可直译为《洪水之年》)。点击这里,有较为详细的介绍。

5. 有着“美国文坛黑夫人”之称的乔伊斯·卡罗尔·欧茨(Joyce Carol Oates)女士依然保持着旺盛的创作力。她的新作《天堂的小鸟》(Little Bird of Heaven)一改她以往的创作风格,以一种独特的方式讲述了一个非同寻常的故事。欲知详情,请点击这里

6. 这里这里、还有这里记录了一组英美文坛的相关消息。假如你此前不了解的话,就来点开看看。

7. 文人也好,文化人也好,要是不整点儿“咸湿”的文字,或者不了解“咸湿”经典,好像也不太对得起“文人”、“文化人”的称号。所以当听说钱钟书这位大师级的学者可以给友人开列出长长的“咸湿”书单,我以为那再正常不过了。言归正传,我想说的是乔治·戈登·拜伦爵士(George Gordon Lord Byron)。这位我们心目中的“革命的浪漫主义诗人”只是又一个例证而已。最近,整理出来了一组拜伦的未经删改的书信。其中不乏“咸湿”之作。这些书信是拜伦写给一位牧师的,其中有拜伦与一位年轻的女佣发生“苟且”之事的全部过程的非常细节的记录。据说索斯比拍卖行将于10月28日在伦敦,将拜伦的这些信件拍出。——嗯,其实没我什么事儿,我是打酱油的。


有着“美国文坛黑夫人”称号的乔伊斯·卡萝尔·欧茨(Joyce Carol Oates)是一位有颇多争议的作家。人们对她的高产及风格多变自然褒扬有加;与此同时,对她略带色情意味的暴力描写也颇有微词。在欧茨的作品中,暴力之下总是隐藏着激情,而激情又几乎不可避免地会导致暴力的发生。这一不断重复的主题和无法摆脱的陷阱再一次出现在她的《天堂的小鸟》(Little Bird of Heaven)中。这是欧茨自1964年以来的第57部长篇小说了。

斯巴达是位于美国纽约州北部的一个虚构出来的小镇。《天堂的小鸟》的故事就发生在这里。小说围绕佐伊·克鲁勒(Zoe Kruller)的被杀这一悬而未决的谋杀案展开。佐伊·克鲁勒是一位蓝草音乐歌手,有一个性生活放荡糜烂的坏名声。自从发现她被勒死在床上之后,警察就开始一而再、再而三地拘禁、审问和她已经分居的丈夫德尔雷·克鲁勒,以及她的已婚情人埃迪·迪艾尔。这两名男子都被当作“主要嫌疑人”出现在当地的报纸上。但是他们都没有被审判。人们对到底谁是凶犯也是各执一词。那位戴了绿帽子的丈夫有显而易见的犯罪动机。但是他们的儿子却坚持作证说,案发当时他和他的父亲在一起。她的情人埃迪那天夜里没在家。这是埃迪的那位满腹怨气的妻子在警方搜查了他们家之后向警察透露的一个事实。她也对他提出了一项限制命令,不允许他接触他们的孩子。故事中,围绕这次谋杀案,埃迪的女儿克里斯塔和德尔雷的儿子爱伦也分裂成为两条线,都试图证明他们各自的父亲的清白。