In her latest book of essays Siri Hustvedt ranges far. She speaks of her family and her early life. She examines the power of art and of reading. She looks back at favourite books like Jane Eyre, and Wuthering Heights, she thinks about what we might be drawn to read during a pandemic, she plays around with the words of a famous story-teller, Scheherazade, and she examines the life of a prolific artist and journal writer, Louise Bourgeois. She also, as so often with her, tries to tease apart the debate about the relative merits of male and female art/writing. Continue reading Mothers, Fathers, and Others : Siri Hustvedt
Margery Sharp is best known for her series The Rescuers, witty and delightful tales about heroic mice among whom we find Miss Bianca and Bernard. The books were made into some Disney films, which probably made money for their author, if not doing justice to her subtle and amusing writing. Rhododendron Pie is her first novel, long out of print and written in one month when she was twenty-five. Continue reading Rhododendron Pie : Margery Sharp
Howard Belsey and Monty Kipps are academic art historians, constantly at war over their views on Rembrandt. Monty has a book coming out soon, and Howard has been procrastinating over his for years. Three months earlier his comments over an article by Monty have left him wide open to mockery Continue reading Zadie Smith – On Beauty
Something of a miracle has just occurred in Australia. A four year old girl, who disappeared in the night while her family was camping in a remote area of Western Australia, has been found alive and well after being gone for eighteen days. The whole country is rejoicing.
But while this was happening, I was reading Larissa Behrendt’s novel After Story where a child who was taken from her family home was never seen alive again.
Annie Ernaux was born in Normandy in 1940 the daughter of working-class parents who eventually came to own a cafe-grocery store. She became a teacher and started writing in 1974. Her slender books chart the events of her life and deal with issues that concern all women; her relationship with her father and mother, her adolescence, her marriage, her mother’s death, her own illness. Continue reading Annie Ernaux – The Years
“I have been teaching in Cambridge for more than thirty years,” he said, “and this is one of the best essays I‘ve read.”
I was prepared for insults, but not for this…
I could tolerate any form of cruelty better than kindness. Praise was a poison to me; I choked on it. I wanted the Professor to shout at me, wanted it so deeply I felt dizzy from the deprivation. The ugliness of me had to be given expression.