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Feigel has gathered together a half-dozen writers – Graham Greene, Henry Green (the pen-name of Henry Yorke), Elizabeth Bowen, Rose Macauley, Rosamund Lehmann, and the little-known Hilda Spiel – and traced their lives, loves and works through the first shattering attacks in 1940-41 to the lull, and then the resumption in 1944, as the pilotless V-1 and V-2 attacks began.
Wark’s two books work sequentially, although they also loop around the same figures and concepts. They could be treated as histories of the Situationist milieu and its aftermaths, but to do so would miss entirely what makes them such compelling and, at times, hilarious reading.
The publication of The Letters of William Gaddis is significant because it presents the first direct and unveiled access to this ‘reclusive’ author. For those of us who know and love Gaddis’s work, however, there is something discomfiting about such personal revelations.
In 1997, the Booker Prize shortlist included a work by an Australian woman for the first time. Literary Australia was chuffed, but also surprised. Who was this Madeleine St John, published by Fourth Estate?
In Far from the Tree, Andrew Solomon… forensically examines families in which children turn out to be not what their parents had fondly expected. The title is a twist on the proverb, ‘The apple never falls far from the tree’. His question is: But what happens when they do?
Somerton Man is one of Adelaide’s great cold cases. The place is built of such true crime stories. On the surface, these narratives tell us, Adelaide is a charmingly ordered, picture-book city. But step carelessly and you could fall through a hole into a parallel world of violence, murder and intrigue.
We could describe it as a memoir, given that Kulka’s own boyhood experiences in Auschwitz are at its centre. But the term memoir barely seems adequate to the introspective, often poetic, sometimes hallucinatory moments that it captures.
J.C. Kannemeyer describes ‘What is a Classic?’ as ‘one of the most important lectures of [Coetzee’s] career’. It is certainly one in which a number of key themes intersect. As Kannemeyer observes, it is especially striking for the way Coetzee relates Eliot’s ideas to his own experience…
What I desperately wanted from this book, and what Wallace deserved, was a biography that was itself a significant work of literature. Max is no slouch as a reporter … but his prose doesn’t have the percipience and complexity over the long haul to fully dramatise the unresolvable questions that it raises, and he tends to be wiped off the page whenever he quotes from his subject.
It is, of course, possible to live by one’s principles, but it takes a superhuman effort to guard them from any taint of compromise and, as Joseph Anton demonstrates in excruciating detail, it inflicts a heavy toll on those compelled to share the burden of such unbending rectitude.
Here are stories that Drewe has not had time to tell before, others that he has told and which now reappear in fresh versions. Involved also is a persistent retrospect on his career, a process less nostalgic than it is interested in the fashioning of his reputation.
The Burning Library begins with an incendiary question: ‘Who or what killed Australian literature?’ The book investigates various possible answers before solving the mystery with the surprise discovery that the corpse may not be dead after all.
Hobbyist doggerel and Booty Calls: Ben Etherington on Quadrant, government subsidies, and the Books of the Year. Plus a response from Jennifer Maiden.