A writer's public life is not -- as is often thought -- a round of glamorous parties, prize-acceptance speeches, and triumphant readings to amphitheatres full of loyal, cheering fans; it is, in fact, a grim treadmill of humiliation and neglect. Mortification sets the record straight, once and for all. A collection of seventy specially commissioned contributions -- true stories of public indignity by some of our finest living writers -- this is a celebration of defeat, and a chance to indulge in that most malicious of pleasures: schadenfreude.
You will read about dashed hopes and collapsing bowels, thwarted desire and unimpeded drinking; of fans queuing up for Stephen King's blood; Margaret Drabble bidding at a mock slave auction in Dallas; Louis de Bernières and the S&M prostitute; A. L. Kennedy's disintegrating trousers; William Boyd endorsing Shake 'n' Vac; Margaret Atwood's on-air brush with the Colostomy Association; about an author wanting to kill a member of her audience or another succeeding (accidentally) in killing his host's beloved pet.
These are the best kind of stories: those told against the teller. While readers may be transfixed by the baroque twists of fate, the toe-curling embarrassments, the body's betrayals, and the mind's vanishing acts, they will also wonder at these writers' brave acknowledgment of their own vulnerability and the willingness to expose their shame, a second time, before the public.
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Robin Robertson is from the northeast coast of Scotland. He has published five collections of poetry and received a number of accolades, including the Petrarca-Preis, the E. M. Forster Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and a Forward Prize in each category. Apart from his translations of Euripides, he has also edited a collection of essays, Mortification: Writers' Stories of Their Public Shame, and, in 2006, he published The Deleted World, a selection of free English versions of poems by the Nobel laureate Tomas Tranströmer.Review:
“Robertson keeps the atmosphere light throughout, tagging delightful epigraphs onto every reminiscence.” (Philadelphia Inquirer)
“Entertaining reading. This is a jolly romp and will make a good stocking-filler for any authors of your acquaintance.” (Sunday Times (London))
“As simple as Schott’s Original Miscellany and equally effective.” (Literary Review)
“Full of the most achingly funny, endearing accounts of total humiliation.” (Daily Mail (London))
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