Maud Newton keeps raving about books I used to love as a kid. First she went back and reread East of Eden and found it just as fabby as the first time she read it thus compelling me to do the same and find the same (ah, the bliss of that book!) and now she’s talking about Somerset Maugham with whom I was OBSESSED in years seven and eight. Me and my friend Michal read all his novels and short stories we could find. It was heaven. So much melodrama! So much angst! And unlike (most) Steinbeck—so many funny bits!
My Maugham love is why I booked us into the Somerset Maugham Suite at Raffles1 for Scott’s birthday. Twas a ittle bit naughty seeing as how I didn’t know Scott’s feelings about Mr Maugham. I am so glad I did because on the writing desk of the suite we found several collections of Maugham’s essays and memoirs which I’d never read before. We spent a whole day lazing about reading his thoughts on writing, which led to much reading out loud of particularly excellent passages and then long discussions.2 Most. Relaxing. Day. Ever.
Maud mentions Somerset Maugham’s most excellent roman a clef, Cakes and Ale, which deals with London literary life in the 1920s and is deliciously catty about several writers, most notably
Horace Hugh Walpole. Maugham wrote to Walpole to deny having lampooned him even though it was obviously true3. I can just see Walpole’s response: “Please!”
I now have to reread Cakes and Ale because I distinctly remember that it was the one book of his that did not impress me at thirteen. Who cares about a bunch of whingey writers? BORING!
I doubt I will have the same response now that I am a whingey writer myself. And more to the point I’m a whingey writer who hangs out with other whingey writers. This is very strange but somehow I have wound up being part of a literary circle.4 We hang out together. We talk books and writing. We read and comment on each other’s work. We bitch about each other. We are just like Maugham and co way back when.5
Oh. My. Elvis!
Which raises the question who will be the first to write the roman a clef about the YA writers scene in New York? Surely it’s time! I demand that we be satirised!6 Immediately! Hurry up!
Why is no one scribbling away?!
Do I have to do this myself?
- Is there any way to type those words without coming across like a wanker? Though actually those words are more wanky back home than in the US of A. When boasting that we were going to be at Raffles I discovered that nobody in America has even heard of it. Good Grief. It’s only one of the most famous hotels in the world! What on Earth do USians learn in school anyway? [↩]
- I must get copies so that I can share all the good bits. He has much to say about a working writer’s life. [↩]
- He admitted it after Walpole’s death. [↩]
- I’m not going to link to those people because I’m jetlagged and it’s the wee hours and I’m bound to leave someone out and offend them. Or include someone and offend them. [↩]
- Except not as talented. I speak for myself on that one. There will be no tickets written on this blog! [↩]
- By someone other than Gawker. [↩]