Gillian Dooley reviews 'The Simple Act of Reading' edited by Debra Adelaide

Gillian Dooley reviews 'The Simple Act of Reading' edited by Debra Adelaide

The Simple Act of Reading

edited by Debra Adelaide

Vintage, $29.99 pb, 232 pp, 9780857986245

Let's start with the title. The act of reading is anything but simple, as Fiona McFarlane and Gabrielle Carey both point out. Eyes, brain, and mind cooperate to create from a series of symbols with no intrinsic representative value a coherent message, or some amusing nonsense, or a persuasive argument, or a boring anecdote, or a parade of transparent lies.

Debra Adelaide has collected several previously published essays, and added to them several more written especially for this project, which might be described, succinctly, as writers on reading. As she explains in her introduction, the object of the book is to support young readers and writers through the Sydney Story Factory, and many contributors have chosen to write about their formative reading experiences.

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Gillian Dooley

Gillian Dooley

Gillian Dooley is an Honorary Senior Research Fellow in English at Flinders University, and a Visiting Fellow in the Music Department at Southampton University. Her publications include an edited book of interviews with Iris Murdoch (2003), V.S. Naipaul, Man and Writer (2006), J.M. Coetzee and the Power of Narrative (2010), and journal articles on a range of literary topics including music in the life and work of Jane Austen. In 2005 she co-edited Matthew Flinders’ Private Journal and in 2014 she published an edition of the correspondence between Iris Murdoch and the Australian radical philosopher Brian Medlin. She has been a regular reviewer for ABR since 2002. She is founding editor of the online journals Transnational Literature and Writers in Conversation.

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