Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Castro on Writing

My books are well-received in the literature community but they are not selling that well. However, as long as I have a loyal group of readers, I’m happy. The best kind of feedback I’ve gotten was when a reader came out of a crowd and told me he identified with the book personally. I don’t care about the masses. It’s that one person I’ve reached that counts because in the end, you feel connected with somebody in this world.
Michael Cheang interviews Australian author Brian Castro in the Star today. Castro, who appeared at the KL International Literary Festival (KLILF), certainly won many fans here, among them Bernice Chauly who writes a review of the festival on Kakiseni.

She says about Castro:
As a writer inspired by his own family stories, Brian weaves fiction and non-fiction in ways that defy ethical limitations “Go for broke,” he told his audience. “If you write a story, make it as intriguing as possible. Take risks and move beyond. You have to keep the idea that if the passion is starting to disappear, then your story is all wrong. Writing has to become an exorcism of the self.”
Bernice's comments about the festival are spot on and I'm also very happy that she wrote about our poetry slam!


Ron said...

Brian is one those 'whatever happened to' authors for me.

I used to see him regularly at Varuna Writers Centre and have signed copies of several of his books.

I remember him saying once, in a discussion with Miles Franklin winner Tom Flood, that a novel was only successful if the reader had to work hard at reading it. (If you want to read a 'hard work' novel try Tom Flood's Oceania Fine!)

It's good to hear about him again.

John said...

To be added here??


Sharon said...

a novel was only successful if the reader had to work hard at reading it. as zadie smith and john sutherland said recently and controversially, the reader has to work as hard as the writer

i'd say yes, but only in direct proportion to the reward gained from reading it i.e some novels are so badly written you have to work really hard at them and don't get a lot out of them. i've also read some beautiful novels that i got a lot out of but didn't feel like an awful lot of effort.

but i'm glad that there is more discussion these days about reading being a creative activity

i think all of us here would envy you those signed copies, ron, we can't get any copies at all at the moment. i wish his publishers/distributors had been a bit more proactive. small wonder his books don't sell well when a golden opportunity to promote them is missed. (camilla gibb's "sweetness in the belly" on the other hand has become a best seller because the copies were there in the shops.)

he's won an awful lot of fans here though so if and when copies do arrive i know they will sell.

Sharon said...

john - huh???

john said...

just a thought

bibliobibuli said...

but what kind of a thought? doesn't make sense? are you accusing anyone of being a faker?

john said...


bibliobibuli said...

you mean because he writes "fictional autobiography"?

bibliobibuli said...

i found this very interesting interview with castro ... he's entirely upfront about what he is doing in his books unlike those guys in my rogues' gallery!

even james frey ... if he had admitted from the outset that he wasn't sticking to some objective truth (as far as such a thing is possible) wouldn't have got himself into trouble with oprah (though she might not have picked his book in the first place!)

but i think this whole area is fascinating

anyway john, you're being very cryptic, and would love to know what you think

john said...

There's upfront and then there's upfront. Read the acknowledgements section in Shanghai Dancing

bibliobibuli said...

i would do john if i could get a copy *sigh*

i can't even get it on amazon until june

john said...

have a look then

bibliobibuli said...

will do :-D

have to read it now

jenny said...

any idea when Brian's book will be on sale here in KL?

bibliobibuli said...

sorry no. you could ask the bookshops.