A.S. Byratt in person...
Posted by Kate on November 17, 1997 at 23:46:31:
Yes! We made it. Both Jane Elizabeth and I went to the reading and signing in New York, and it was great.
Ms Byatt spoke briefly about the passage she was to read from one of the stories from her new book "The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye" which is a collection of Fairy tales for adults.
The title story is about a narratologist (yes!) who is in a hotel in Turkey when she release a genie from a bottle.
Byatt said that, like herself, the main character spends much of her time in hotel rooms, and that like herself, she is fascinating by, and needs, NARRATIVE, so that she spends a lot of time watching tennis on tv because a tennis match, like a good story, has a beginning, a middle and an end! (I was inwardly cheering at this point, because it related so much to the discussions we have had here about narrative, and how important it is, and how much of Possession is about narrative, and story telling...)
She then read a portion of the story (which is very funny) and answered questions from the audience. Someone asked how she keeps all her complex ideas together, and she said that she carries a large notebook in which she maps out her plots, and that she then indexes this on her computer.
She also mentioned that she was very fond of Possession.
She talked about her new book which is the fourth in the series "The Virgin in the Garden", "Still Life", "Babel Tower" and the fourth one which she is writing, and said it is best to read them in order.
Did she say anything else that was interesting, Jane?
Anyway, then they had the signing, and I got her to sign my second hand edition of Possession, which had coloured sticky labels hanging out of it, and a copy of "the Djinn...". Jane got her Possession signed.
AND I ASKED THE QUESTION...
I said, "We are involved in an internet discussion group, and we've been discussing Possession for the last few weeks. And we have had a huge debate about one aspect of it, and you may not want to answer this, but our question is, were Blanche and Christabel lovers?"
She was quite happy to answer.
"Oh I think so " she said, in a tone which suggested there was not much doubt in the matter. "I think it's clear in the references by Blanche to their "special times" together - and in the white gloves poetry - its quite obvious there" or words to that effect.
"That's what I thought" I said "For those same reasons. It's been an object of some discussion!" "really?" she said. Then Jane got her book signed and I explained that we had met through an online Austen discussion group.
She said that in one of her recent books there is a whole discussion about Mansfield Park - what is the reference Jane Elizabeth?
She was really great - but obviously there were oodles of people waiting, so we couldn't ask any more, unfortunately. But it was nice to find out I was right about Blanche and Christabel - at least as far as the author was concerned, anyway!
And Jane E and I had coffee and cake together and caught up on lots of Pemberley gossip.
I'm really glad I went - thanks for spotting it Jane E!
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