Posted by: oneyearbook | March 12, 2009


Contrary to the previous assertion about sherbet and dancing, here‘s an article (link via Arts & Letters Daily) that suggests that the life of a writer, at least a successful (very successful) one, can be wonderful. That’s not exactly the topic of the article; it’s more about the scientific mindset and emphasis on plot that McEwan brings to his work, but the side effect is to suggest that he’s living the good life.

“On a recent hike through the woods surrounding his new country house—a renovated seventeenth-century brick-and-flint cottage, in Buckinghamshire” – hmmm, that sounds like a nice place to live. Moldy garret in the city it is not. He also has a gardener maintaining the grounds and help creating a wildflower field.

On his habit of taking long walks, often through the terrain paced by the Romantics: “Usually, he walks slightly ahead of a companion, and his knapsack contains two stainless-steel cups and a very good bottle of wine.”

Atonement, it seems, has sold more than 4 million copies, which is part of the reason McEwan can afford things like this: “In the winter of 2007, after McEwan completed publicity rounds for the novella On Chesil Beach and the film of Atonement, he and his wife, Annalena McAfee, a former editor at the Guardian, travelled for three months; they trekked the Himalayas, the Southern Alps of New Zealand, and the coast of Tasmania.”

He has a poetry library in his home in town; and, unlike some previously quoted authors, he seems to approach writing as a pleasure. “Writing is a self-pleasuring act,” he says. He has his birthday at a ballroom overlooking the zoo, surrounded by bunches of friends.

It’s nice, I think, to see a writer being successful – both critically and popularly – and enjoying a sort of genteel, writerly, and yet luxurious-seeming lifestyle. It gives all something to strive for.

Also of interest: the experiment he does in handing out books to strangers, from which it is concluded that “When women stop reading, the novel will be dead.”


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