There was no one theme intended to sprint across this blog during the first few weeks of its existence. Nevertheless, such a theme has emerged. The theme to which I refer is that of ‘strange encounters with famous writers’, as seen here and here (and probably elsewhere too). Were I to really let myself go on this theme, the chances are that I would never stop writing. Suffice it to say, I have had more ‘strange encounters with famous writers’ than can be counted on the fingers and toes of a thousand horny toads. Many of these will no doubt dribble into this blog as the days drip by. For now, however, I present to you the first few sentences of Sebastian Cheraz’s review of Xenophobic Xavier:
“I was once privileged enough to meet one of Europe’s greatest novelists – Kirios Quebec – in the men’s room of an expensive Parisian hotel. As he began to relieve himself in the next door urinal, I chanced to ask him a question, knowing that he could not escape with speed. Considering the length of his novels, his prolific journalistic output and his famously ‘loose’ style, I was hoping to discover whether he had ever had any trouble writing, or whether it had always come naturally to him. “Ah!” he sighed, “Writing does not come naturally to anyone… If only writing was like peeing!”
Putting aside the quaint comparison between excretion and creativity, the keener readers among you may be a smidgen confused over this particular portrayal of Kirios Quebec. As both a previous post and a review have noted, Quebec is usually seen as a foul-tempered freak, inordinately fond of bathing his head in horse manure. Here, however, we find him in the unlikely surroundings of a swanky Parisian hotel, calmly answering awkward questions with something close to wit. Admittedly, he does lose his temper a little later on – still, it’s an altogether more kindly Quebec than that to which we are accustomed. An error? It ain’t necessarily so. With the possible exception of Pyetr Turgidovsky, I’ve yet to meet a mean and raving madman who hasn’t suffered a rare moment of politeness somewhere down the line. Well, we all make mistakes…
Incidentally, a couple of readers may have arranged their foreheads in the position of a frown following my proud use of ‘famous’ earlier in this post. Is Kirios Quebec famous? Is Paavo Laami famous? Not in my book, they grumble. Maybe not, I reply. Certainly, my idea of fame differs from that of other people. I refer to fame within a certain field: an outlying field, on the fringes of most other fields. But a small field? Again: it ain’t necessarily so. There is a lot of hair on the fringes of European culture: more hair than you can imagine. It is, some would say, a world unto itself. And I do not think myself mistaken in attributing fame to some of the loftier denizens of this great – and greatly neglected – world.