My review of Aharon Appelfeld's All Whom I Have Loved appeared in the Daily Telegraph t'other day. Its been cut. Annoyingly, that happens! I'll put a much fuller, unmangled review online here at RSB in a day or so, but in the meantime my Telegraph review will have to suffice, although it doesn't even begin to explain how moving I found Appelfeld's latest work, and its lack of substance as a piece rather embarrasses me. How slight, awkward and flimsy next to Appelfeld's lambent rigour.
Indeed, reading the latest Maurice Blanchot collection, A Voice From Elsewhere (wonderfully, unfussily translated -- as ever -- by our friend Charlotte Mandell), I've been wondering again about the worth of the kind of evaluative reviews one reads here on RSB and in the broadsheets. Blanchot has this astonishing ability to think along with (to abide with) the writers about whom he is writing. There is the assumption of good faith, and the shared endeavour of communication and its attendant impossibilities. But Blanchot, quite rightly, only spends his time thinking along with and writing about writers who deserve a reader as astute as he was. In the first eponymous essay from A Voice From Elsewhere, Blanchot references Giacometti, Henry James and Mallarmé, to help him think/write about Louis-René des Forêts; later, "trying to understand the Lyotard text called The Survivor, while continuing to meditate on the poems [of...] Louis-René des Forêts", Hegel, Proust and Levinas aid in the enquiry.
Under the profundity of a gaze like Blanchot's most writing withers. The majority of what gets published today is shockingly trite. Reading Blanchot reminds us of the challenge of being a good reader, but that has to start with having decent things to read. Aharon Appelfeld is 75. I hope he has many years of writing ahead of him. Authors are ten-a-penny, but there are precious few writers in the world.