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Mortification: Writers' Stories of their Public Shame Paperback – 17 May 2004


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Product details

  • Paperback: 289 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; New Ed edition (17 May 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007171382
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007171385
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 451,976 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'Fascinating...a case study in the relationship between humiliation and storytelling and, ultimately, between the writer and his work'. -- Observer

'Gloriously bathetic and wickedly funny.... Savour the Schadenfreude.' -- Guardian

'well written and witty...a perfect book to dip into' -- Daily Mail

About the Author

Robin Robertson is an editor and an award-winning poet. He lives in London.


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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By kehs TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 27 Feb. 2006
Format: Paperback
This is an extremely humerous look at how authors feel about their book signing events. It's fascinating to hear their side of things and to see things from their point of view. There are some very funny accounts of places that they have to stay in overnight, and amusing anecdotes of remarks made by the general public. I particularly loved the tale of Glyn Maxwell,a poet, who had to do a reading for some school children - on being asked what his poem was about he went on to explain in some detail what he had tried to get across in his poem, when he'd finished explaining the child that had asked merely looked at him and said 'why didn't you just say that in the first place then?' Terrific stuff, a must read for any wannabe authors.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Joe HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on 20 Aug. 2005
Format: Paperback
"I'm not going to buy a book, but you looked so lonely there, I thought I'd come and talk to you."
Thus concludes writer John Banville's contribution to MORTIFCATION, in which he tells of a last-minute book signing engagement in Miami, during which he was approached by a potential customer, who is quoted above. This single incident perhaps best reflects the insecurities of the seventy writer-contributors to this volume, which is mostly about their humiliations suffered at various book signings, book fairs, and readings.
MORTIFICATION is essentially a collection of very personal very short stories. Like any anthology, it's difficult to generally rate because the individual chapters vary so widely in content, style, and appeal. Here, they range from 1 star to perhaps 4.5, with the majority at or above 3.
My least favorite came from John Burnside, who categorized mortification into Mild and Persistent forms, and a Virulent Strain. His definitions for the three were perhaps based on personal experience, but they didn't have that ring, so he may have missed the point of the book.
Personally, I most enjoyed those stories of humiliation submitted by David Harsent and Andrew Motion. The former, a poet, relates attending a bookshop reading with three other writers of the genre. Harsent attends so drunk that he falls asleep on stage, then loudly projectile vomits in the shop loo within the audience's hearing. Motion's gaffe occurred while a lecturer of English at the University of Hull. Andrew organizes a university poetry reading, and takes upon himself the task of picking up at the train station one of the invited writers, whom he hopes to recognize based solely on a photograph.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Collins on 5 Jan. 2004
Format: Hardcover
I was bought this book for Christmas and I've found it compulsive 'smallest room' reading. It's an easy-to-read, dippable collection of stories by various writers about their mostly public shame, usually connected to having to do a reading to an empty room at a remote book festival or to an empty bookshop to three people who are there to get out of the rain or are expecting to see someone else. There is a slight bias towards poets who - not being a poetry buff - I have never heard of, and one or two contributors try to be clever, but mostly it's a warm-hearted, self-effacing book about the ludicrous relationship between writer and the wider world. It appeals to me greatly, even as a writer who's only ever done about half a dozen 'live' events (most of the writers in Mortification go on demoralising book tours!), but I wonder as I near the end how much it will appeal to those outside of the literary world? A cry of 'Stop whingeing, you pampered, self-flaggellating nonces!' might be in order. But it won't come from me.
(Warning: might put you off ever becoming a published writer. If not, you've picked the right dream.)
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