Saturday, 14 March 2009

Alexander Theroux



At my wedding, my cousin Pierre remarked upon the fact that when in my teens I used to enjoy reading dictionaries and collecting rare, antique, and obscure words (a criterion that defines my collecting in other areas as well). Several such dictionaries consisted purely of such words, and one of them helpfully illustrated their usage with quotes by modern authors. One of the authors most frequently mentioned was Alexander Theroux, who wrote Darconville's Cat (1981) and whose last novel, Laura Warholic, was published in 2007, following twenty years of silence. I presented my wife with a copy of the latter two days before our wedding, and, having only recently begun reading it, she has been sharing with me selected passages, where the author's contemptuous wit has iridesced with particular brilliance.



I have to say that rarely have I encountered a more technically accomplished author: Alexander Theroux's prose is of an extraordinarily high literary level, which does not suprise me in an 18th Century author like Edward Gibbon, but which is very rare in a world where quantity always takes precedence over quality, and where publishers bin long manuscripts without a glance because they are worried about the cost of paper. Unsurprisingly, he epitomises the Nietzschean genius, for whom recognition is usually prefaced by Dickensian penury, an obscure death, and a century of oblivion.

Theroux was interviewed here and here.

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