The most satisfying book I’ve read recently was Scenes from Provincial Life, a revised collection of J.M. Coetzee’s fiction-memoirs Boyhood, Youth, and Summertime. A comfortingly hefty novel, Scenes from Provincial Life brings together three vital periods in the life of ‘character’ John Coetzee (as distinguished from the living, breathing, Adelaide-residing J.M. Coetzee). It tracks his evolution from reluctant mama’s boy to disaffected early computer programmer to the subject of a biographer’s series of interviews, conducted in an attempt to piece together the now-dead writer’s non-writing life. I came to it soon after finishing the most recent of Coetzee’s novels, The […]
Archives for November 2013
Rollo Hesketh on ways the ‘Cultural Cringe’ has shaped an Australian literary tradition.
In 2009, when I was 22, I decided to move to Europe. I would spend a semester in the Czech Republic on exchange and then afterwards, I would be in Europe. The plan was to smoothly disappear into it. All the moving around we did growing up (two countries, eight schools, one province, four states and a territory) had, for the most part, kept my possessions to a minimum. Books, though, were somehow exempt. The typical move would see me adding three boxes of books and one box of everything else to the moving pile. As an adult, visits to […]
I do a lot of reviewing, mostly fiction, and I’ve just finished judging 150ish books for a non-fiction award. I also get to read a fair amount of unpublished writing. I’m pleased, then, to have the chance here to write about reading that I’m choosing to do for pure fun or interest, even if I don’t get to do as much of that as I’d like. Mind you, the distinction I’m making between recreational and compulsory reading is, to some extent, a false one: it’s not as if I hate what I read for ‘work’ (not always, anyway). This year, […]
Earlier this year James at New Edition Bookshop suggested William Maxwell to me. So I read The Folded Leaf, a college novel set in 1920s Chicago. I now love it as much as Chad Harbach’s The Art of Fielding. After The Folded Leaf I needed more Maxwell so I went back to the bookshop and bought Time Will Darken It and The Chateau. In The Chateau, a young American couple, Harold and Barbara, are holidaying in post war France: Thursday was a nice day. The sun shone, it was warm, and Harold and Barbara spent the entire afternoon on the bank […]