Thursday, February 21, 2013

Writers on writing: Adam Phillips

From Joan Acocella's review of Adam Phillips's Missing Out in The New Yorker. This part isn't online, so I'm typing it in from the print version.
At the age of fifty-eight, he has published seventeen books, not counting the seven that he has edited.  He also writes frequently for The Threepenny Review and, especially, for the London Review of Books. He just keeps cranking it out.
 And he says he doesn't fuss over it.  . . . [Asked about] his experience of writing, Phillips answered that it came easily. If, in producing a piece, he felt stuck, he just chucked it in the wastebasket. In other ways, too, he takes a relaxed, even antic view.  By now, he doesn't feel obliged to write his books on his own. (Of his last six, three were co-authored.) .  . . But, even when he's writing alone, about psychoanalysis, he doesn't feel that he actually has to write a book.  As he has explained, he writes some essays and then, trusting that their emergence from his brain at around the same time means that they must be related, publishes them in one volume.  So, while some of his books are advertised as collections of essays, that's what many of his other books are, too. "Missing Out" is in this category.  It discusses, at length, not just missing out but "King Lear" and "Othello," and also includes the text of a lecture that he gave at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, in 2011, on theatrical representations of madness.  Phillips pretty much does any damn thing he pleases.

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