Over at the Guardian book blog there’s a debate blowing after a post dealing with Jim Crace’s plans to retire. The post has provoked all sorts of reactions regarding the merits of a writer’s age/youth, many largely missing the point made by Crace.
Perhaps the most worrying thing, though, regarding the post is the implication that John Dugdale – and possibly others at the G Book Blog – aren’t regular readers of Three Monkeys, given that Jim Crace spoke at length to us way back in February 2005 about his plans to retire:
He’s clear about future ideas, and reasonably clear of when he’ll hang up his hat as a writer. “Three books from now there’ll be this last book [as outlined, the book about a man in his fifties making a grand political gesture]. I think that will be the last one. I know I keep saying I’m going to pack up after the next one, but I’m 59 in a couple of weeks, and then another 6 years, sixty five seems to be a good time to get out, before the bitterness”.
He goes on to explain: “If you look around you, most writers when they start writing, what can they expect? Well, most of them can expect to not be published, and those that are published can expect to not be successful, and those that are successful can expect to not be succesful for very long. I’ve been immensely lucky. I’m not claiming to be Philip Roth, or Ian McEwan, with a very long span and a promising future. Or Margaret Atwood or J.M. Coetze. Those writers are almost beyond being criticised. I’m not one of those writers. Most of the writers I see who’ve been partially successful, and continue to write, and perhaps even to improve, reach the point where they’re no longer read! I mean, how many books by me can you read? You know the sort of stuff you’re going to get. I’m sure I’ll go out of fashion, if it hasn’t already started. You don’t want to get to 67 writing a novel feeling bitter and marginalised. There are lots of writers, I won’t name names, who are like that”.