Geordie Williamson reviews 'The Passage of Love' by Alex Miller

Geordie Williamson reviews 'The Passage of Love' by Alex Miller

The Passage of Love

by Alex Miller

Allen & Unwin, $32.99 pb, 592 pp, 9781760297343

Geordie Williamson

Geordie Williamson

Geordie Williamson is a Picador publisher and the author of The Burning Library: Our greatest novelists lost and foud

...

Every author has some version of origin story: a narrative describing what it was that first compelled him or her to write, or at least what attracted them to the role. You can hear the tale harden into myth as an emerging author shapes themselves to those obligatory rubrics of self-disclosure required by writers’ festivals. Sometimes the transition from would-be novelist or short story writer is so smooth as to be seamless, an osmotic passage from student of literature to practitioner. These are more likely to be authors already inculcated with the requisite cultural confidence and tutored intelligence of their caste. The children of the creative classes are those who are born to write, as others are born to rule.

But there is another, perhaps more interesting kind of author – the sort who emerges from nowhere. The progenitor figure in the modern Anglosphere tradition is D.H. Lawrence, that wild, weird, proletarian genius (in the local context, Miles Franklin offers a different yet no less compelling case, based on gender and nation rather than class). Unlike those who have been raised up in the relatively sophisticated cultural infrastructure of English literature departments or creative writing degrees, whose tendency is to address themes or subjects removed from direct experience, self-made writers are likely to take their own emergence as a subject. They have willingly chosen their way, not inherited the possibility of the writing life. The story they have to tell, at least in part, is the story of their becoming.

Read the rest of this article by purchasing a subscription to ABR Online, or subscribe to the print edition to receive access to ABR Online free of charge.

If you are already a subscriber, click here, or on the ‘Log In’ tab in the top right hand corner of the screen, and enter your username and password to log in. If you have logged in but are still seeing this message your subscription to ABR Online may have expired. Please contact us or click here to renew your subscription to ABR Online. More information about ABR Online can be found on our Frequently Asked Questions page.

Published in November 2017, no. 396

Leave a comment

Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.

NB: If you are an ABR Online subscriber or contributor, you will need to login to ABR Online in order to post a comment. If you have forgotten your login details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to comments@australianbookreview.com.au. We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.