Gah, I’ve said it! Having lambasted those in a previous post who talk of literary ‘guilty pleasures’, I was in my local bookshop the other day buying a copy of Hannibal Rising by Thomas Harris, and used those dread words myself. Mind you, the till assistant did start it by looking at the book and saying witheringly ‘A literary masterpiece, I’m sure,’ and there was another person in the queue behind me, and I suddenly felt a bit self-conscious… ‘Yes, a guilty pleasure,’ I found myself saying. Argh! What am I turning into?
Anyway I’m now half way through the book and can report that it’s good, although not, perhaps, in the league of its masterly predecessor Hannibal. Nonetheless I’m enjoying it a great deal and not feeling in the least bit guilty about it. As usual I’ve provided a link to the book on Amazon from the main Thoughtcat page, together with an interesting article about Harris and the new book which I found in the Guardian. I can relate especially well to two things from that piece – firstly the difficulty of writing: “[Harris] writes slowly, partly because his books are so fastidiously researched and so dense in arcane reference, but also because, as his fellow bestselling novelist Stephen King has remarked, the very act of writing for him is a kind of torment – King speaks of Harris writhing on the floor in agonies of frustration.” Personally I never get as far as the floor – my own writhing all takes place in other areas of life, I’m afraid – but it’s reassuring to know that someone as good (and, it must be said, as successful) as Harris is as prone to such torments as the rest of us.
Secondly, I liked this quote from some past interview with the creator of Hannibal Lecter: “‘You must understand that when you are writing a novel, you are not making anything up. It’s all there and you just have to find it.”