Dipping into Nick Hornby’s MORE BATHS LESS TALKING

More Baths Less Talking by Nick Hornby
More Baths Less Talking by Nick Hornby


I have a book I want to recommend to you, dear readers, not that I read it myself. I SKIMMED it.  Looking for the good parts. And there were so many good parts I might as well have read it.  I didn’t have the time or patience (or concentration) to sit down and actually read it.  I’m reading other stuff, plus I’m constantly “marketing” The Answer to Your Question, which mainly consists of filling out forms with the same information over and over on online sites that announce free eBook giveaway days.  I have another one coming up, so if for some unimaginable reason you haven’t downloaded the $2.99 Answer eBook on Amazon, you can download it free on March 24.  Just think of all you’ll save!

Anyway—the book I so enjoyed skimming is More Baths Less Talking, by the British writer Nick Hornby.  I had loved Hornby’s novel Juliet, Naked, plus I have this THING for certain English guys who can talk–or I should say write–as if they’re conversing with you.  They’re the most lively, quirky, funny, bright conversationalists you’ve ever heard; you feel funnier, smarter, and more entertaining yourself just from holding their books in your hand. I have a huge crush on another British writer of the same ilk as Hornby,  Geoff Dyer, based on his novel Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi (I’m such a lightweight I never seem to read more than one book by anyone).

I actually got to meet Dyer (or Geoff, as I like to think of him) at the Key West Literary Seminar this year.  He stole the show every time he opened his mouth on stage, especially when he read a passage from Out of Sheer Rage: Wrestling with D.H. Lawrence, his intended biography of Lawrence in which Geoff never actually gets around to writing about him.  He was self-deprecatingly hilarious, which to me is always sexy, and I actually got to speak to him.  When I told him how I had listened to Jeff in Venice on tape while I was driving, a look passed over his (long) face and he said, “That must have kept you awake . . .” Meaning the “good parts,” no doubt.  That was our moment.  He’s funny looking, tall and thin, Ichabod Crane-ish, and made me think of the taffy we used to pull as girls into long strands.  Everything about him (well, I can’t say for sure . . .) was long.

Geoff Dyer at the KWLS photo permission Nick Doll
Geoff Dyer at the KWLS
photo permission Nick Doll













Anyway, I’m trying to write about More Baths Less Talking here, not taffy or Geoff Dyer.

Baths is a collection of Hornby’s monthly book columns for the Believer magazine, which I had never heard of.  Which just goes to show how out of it I am.  It’s Dave Eggers magazine, published 9 times a year in SF and sold in independent bookstores!  Why didn’t I know this?  Because I live in the Midwest? Because I’m old?

I quote from Wikipedia:

The Believer is a magazine, as its editor Heidi Julavits writes, that urges readers and writers to “reach beyond their usual notions of what is accessible or possible.” The magazine publishes essays that the critic Peter Carlson describes as “highbrow but delightfully bizarre,” book reviews that may assess writers of other eras, and interviews with writers, artists, musicians and directors, often conducted by colleagues in their fields. The critic A.O. Scott described the magazine as part of “a generational struggle against laziness and cynicism, to raise once again the banners of creative enthusiasm and intellectual engagement.” It has a “cosmopolitan frame of reference and an eclectic internationalism, mixing pop genres with literary theory.”

Wowsers. Continue reading “Dipping into Nick Hornby’s MORE BATHS LESS TALKING”

Shteyngart and Atwood at the Key West Literary Seminar


Atwood and Shteynart at the KW Literary Seminar (photo credit KWLS website)

It had been my intention to report on the Key West Literary Seminar this year, which took place January 5 – 8th.  The theme was “Yet Another World: Literature of the Future,” and featured Margaret Atwood, Billy Collins, Douglas Coupland, Michael Cunningham, Jennifer Eagan, Rivka Galchen, William Gibson, James Gleick, Jonathan Lethem, Janna Levin, Valerie Martin, China Mieville, Joyce Carol Oates, Dexter Palmer, George Saunders, Gary Shteyngart, James Tate, Colson Whitehead, and Charles Yu.  Whew!

Alas, I missed most of it.  I had a bad cold, the kind where it feels as if each cell has a tiny anchor attached to it.  My husband gave it to me, the dawg.  I knew come Monday the 9th I’d be teaching a workshop and then heading to Cuba on my unexpected adventure on the 12th. It seemed the better part of wisdom (whatever that means) to get some rest when I was the sickest, which coincided with all the great panels, readings and receptions of the literary seminar. RATS! 

I did, however, make it to the Sunday sessions, which I enjoyed a lot.  Now, looking over my notes, I can’t make too much sense of them.  It’s hard to jot down much in the dark when conversation is flying on stage.  I also went to Margaret Atwood’s talk for the Friends of the KW Library on Monday night.  I’ll try to pass along a few things that I found entertaining or interesting. But if you really want to get more out of the Seminar than I can give you, follow the links below to find photographs and audio tapes of some of the panels and talks.    

Here’s the description from the website, http://www.kwls.org/ :

 “Yet Another World: Literature of the Future” featured some of the most innovative writers working today and explored the potential of our present moment through dystopian, utopian, and imagined worlds. You can see pictures of the event on Littoral, our online journal, where you’ll also find an interview with James Gleick, the mastermind behind this year’s seminar. Selected recordings from the seminar are available in our audio archives, including talks by Joyce Carol Oates, Jonathan Lethem, Colson Whitehead, and China Miéville.”

Gleick, Oates, Atwood and Mieville on stage at KWLS (photo credit KWLS website)


I also want to call to your attention to next year’s seminar, which is described below.  It’s got a knock-out line-up again, and should be very interesting.  It will feature biographers of writers, and also writers of fictionalized biographies of writers.  I know it’s not easy or cheap to get to KW for the Seminar, but if you’re able, I know you’d enjoy it. 

“Are we having fun yet…” (photo credit KWLS website)


“The 31st annual Key West Literary Seminar takes place January 10–13, 2013. “Writers on Writers” will be an exploration of some of the world’s most enduring writers and an investigation of the relationship between life and art. As we turn the lens on the contemporary writers on stage, we will also explore the creative act of recreating a life and consider how an engagement with great writers of the past affects the literature of today. Confirmed panelists include James Atlas, Rosalind Brackenbury, Geoff Dyer, Pico Iyer, Jay Parini, Robert D. Richardson, Phyllis Rose, Julie Salamon, Judith Thurman, Colm Toibin, Edmund White, and Brenda Wineapple. Registrationis open now and filling up fast. Writers’ workshops and scholarship opportunities will be announced in the spring.” Continue reading “Shteyngart and Atwood at the Key West Literary Seminar”