Loitering With Intent, Muriel Spark


Life imitates art in Muriel Spark's Loitering With Intent, the recollections of a novelist's involvement with the ill-fated Autobiographical Association. The eccentrics peopling the book were engaging, but particularly provocative were some of Spark's observations about the act of writing itself (an act that, for the narrator, "took up the sweetest part of my mind and the rarest part of my imagination; it was like being in love and better").

I also quite liked this, on memoir versus fiction:

It strikes me how much easier it is with characters in a novel than in real life. In a novel the author invents characters and arranges them in convenient order. Now that I come to write biographically I have to tell of whatever actually happened and whoever naturally turns up. The story of a life is a very informal party; there are no rules of precedence and hospitality, no invitations.

Life as an informal party: just lovely. One can never plan for the uninvited guest, just pass the canapes and pour them a glass of wine, yes?

(Above, at left, is Spark's author photo from the dust jacket of the copy I read. Fantastic, right? She appears to be wearing a long necklace from which hangs a golden pig charm.)