What the authors of these three wildly different books share is a gift for creating through language a kind of intimacy of presence, as though they were in the room with you. Emily Wilson’s much-awaited translation of The Iliad (W.W. Norton & Company) is a gorgeous, hefty hardback with substantial authorial commentary that manages to be both scholarly and engaging. The poem is translated into effortless-looking blank verse that reads like music. The Running Grave (Sphere) by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling), the seventh novel in the Cormoran Strike crime series and one of the best so far, features Rowling’s gift for the creation of memorable characters and a cracking plot about a toxic religious cult. Charlotte Wood’s Stone Yard Devotional (Allen & Unwin, reviewed in this issue of ABR) lingers in the reader’s mind, with the haunting grammar of its title, the restrained artistry of its structure, and the elusive way that it explores modes of memory, grief, and regret.... (read more)
This week, on the ABR podcast, literary critic and editor Geordie Williamson reviews J.M. Coetzee’s new short story collection The Pole and Other Stories. At the age of eighty-three Coetzee has again proved himself a ‘true and loving creator’, argues Williamson, by denying his characters endings or wholeness – ‘the great lie of art’. Listen to Geordie Williamson with ‘Last things: J.M. Coetzee’s antipodal forces’, published in the July issue of ABR.... (read more)
Eggs for Keeps: Poetry reviews and other praise by Barry Hill
The Last Days of Roger Federer: And other endings by Geoff Dyer
What’s your point?
John Carmody, in the June issue, writes a letter loaded with tendentious and pejorative language to accuse me of thundering and provocation in my review of Richard J. Lane’s Fifty Key Literary Theorists (March 2007). Carmody portrays me as self-satisfied in the same breath as he refers to his own wryness. He advises me to use words more ‘clearly and carefully’, and then composes a sentence in which ‘eliding’ creates a ‘mélange’. He charges me with portentousness in a letter that consists almost entirely of windy rhetorical questions. I have only one question: what is his point?... (read more)