The last words of the endnotes to John A. Scott’s most recent novel – earlier ones have won the Victorian Premier’s prize for fiction and been shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award – and thus the last words of this book, if we exclude back-cover plaudits, read: ‘An additional narrative strand, chronicling the history of Surrealist André Breton in Melbourne, 1952, omitted from this version of N for reasons of overall length [emphasis added], appears in Southerly, Vol. 73, No 3, 2013 (“The Naked Writer”).’ As these words appear on page 599 of N, a sesquipedalian opus if ever there was one, it can only be observed, echoing Francisco in the first scene of Hamlet, ‘for this relief much thanks’, for N is already over-long, over-plotted, over-the-top, making excessive demands upon the reader’s generosity and her stamina.
Don Anderson on John A. Scott's new novel
by John A. Scott
Brandl & Schlesinger, $32.95 pb, 599 pp, 9781921556203
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Congratulations on a review that may well make the shortlist in the Hatchet Job of the Year awards. Mr Anderson is nothing if not consistent in his scorn for Scott's work: one might wonder why ABR asked him to review this author, and why Anderson submits himself to the pain.Saturday, 21 June 2014 09:53 posted by Lisa Hill
I myself am in favour of robust reviewing. However, while I hesitate to tell Mr Anderson how to do his job, I'd suggest that he might well take a little time to read Crème de la Phlegm by Angela Bennie. It offers wise advice to reviewers.
For the record, I found N to be one of the best books I've read this year. But I'm an admirer of contemporary Australian literature...
Lisa Hill, ANZ LitLovers
PS Oops I nearly forgot to give my comment street cred by padding it out with references to how well read I am. I too have read Big Important Books by Proust, and Joyce, and Bolano, assorted Americans... and oh yes, some Australians, Alexis Wright, Christina Stead, Patrick White...
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