Marie Maclean

For some time now literary criticism has been fascinated by the role of naming, and the inscription of the name, in relation to the identity of the self. There are rich pickings to be had from examining autobiography for the way the writer reveals and hides behind the words with which a life is described. And in this era of autobiographical and biographical tumescence, it is most important that the analysis of such writing is done by those with the ability to do so. Think of the recent debates over biographies and autobiographies in Australia and you will quickly recognise how unsophisticated is our general understanding of what is going on when a life is inscribed, and yet how different the living is from the writing.

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This is a dazzling book. A sprawling, sensual, rambunctious marvel of a novel, it drives its readers out of their everyday world and every comfortable preconception. It takes enormous risks, not least that of demanding our understanding for the monstrous.

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