Q: What do you think of McEwan? Austen? Wells?
A: McEwan, who is vaguely interesting for his subject matter, tends to dodge the issues like much middlebrow fiction and can be a bloody awful writer. As I can be.
Austen's a joy.
Wells is brilliant, often irritating. I have pretty much an entire collection of Wells, most of them firsts and in the original magazines from The Time Machine on. I have all of Austen in a nice edition. I have no McEwan, Amis (fils or père), and no Rushdie. I have all of Elizabeth Bowen, Angus Wilson, Colette, and plenty of Elizabeth Taylor, Rose MacAulay, and lots of Edwardian realists; all of Meredith, Eliot, Dickens; all of Stevenson, Conrad, lots of Ford Maddox Ford, Jack London, Howells, Harte, Twain, California writers who could listen to the eloquence of the streets; a fair amount of Saul Bellow, and a bunch of contempotrary writers. Today's English pantheon is pretty miserable in comparison.