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One of the Guardian Unlimited Books' top 10 literary blogs: "A home-grown treasure ... smart, serious analysis"

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Blog entries on '15 September 2005'

Thursday 15 September 2005


I have finally got around to reviewing Imre Kertész's powerful debut novel Fatelessness. In the review, I note:

It is Kertész's tone that is remarkable throughout the novel. As told by György, the horrors of the concentration camp are never theatricalised. Callow throughout, György records and recounts, but never descends to hyperbole. Of course, he has no need. The horror is well known to us. (Indeed, there is a danger that we do not see quite how remarkable, restrained and radical Fatelessness is simply because we know the story quite as well as we do.) But, as told by György, what was happening to him was more strange than hellish, the horror more surreal than visceral. This is not quite right: for György the horror is elsewhere, what is happening to him is just curious and miserable.

[Click here for the whole of my Fatelessness review.]

Posted by Mark Thwaite

Thursday 15 September 2005

Slow Man

I've just posted my review of Coetzee's Slow Man. Originally, it was slated to appear in the London Evening Standard on Monday, but it was pulled when Coetzee wasn't shortlisted.

As the complete-review note, "considerable displeasure" seems to be the overridding critical view. I disagree, saying:

Coetzee's prose is often matter-of-fact, almost rugged. His work is compelling nonetheless because of the way, in scenes like the awful and affecting rape in his Booker winning Disgrace, he investigates calamities and confrontations and our responses to them. Coetzee is an ethicist. We read him for his incisiveness. But a great writer - and Coetzee is such - also knows that pacing, narrative and form are vital parts of their work ... Slow Man is the work of a peerless writer working out via his writing the value of what he does. Writing is always a set of ethical choices. Choosing Coetzee means that we, as readers, need to involve ourselves in those difficult choices too.

[Click to read the whole of my Slow Man review.]

Posted by Mark Thwaite

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Omens, after Alexander Pushkin

I rode to meet you: dreams
like living beings swarmed around me
and the moon on my right side
followed me, burning.

I rode back: everything changed.
My soul in love was sad
and the moon on my left side
trailed me without hope.

To such endless impressions
we poets give ourselves absolutely,
making, in silence, omen of mere event,
until the world reflects the deepest needs of the soul.

-- Louise Gluck
Averno (Carcanet Press)

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Word of the Day

The Dord, the Diglot, and an Avocado or two

Pre-order Anu Garg's new book: The Dord, the Diglot, and an Avocado or Two: The Hidden Lives and Strange Origins of Common and Not-So-Common Words (ISBN 9780452288614), published by Penguin more …

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October's Books of the Month

The New Spirit of Capitalism The New Spirit of Capitalism
Luc Boltanski; Eve Chiapello
Horizons Touched: The Music of ECM Horizons Touched: The Music of ECM
Steve Lake, Paul Griffiths

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