Category Archives: Novels, poetry, book news

‘Though no honours came my way, those were the lovely years’: The Grass Harp by Truman Capote

Like his literary hero Gustave Flaubert, Truman Capote was passionately dedicated to his art. He wrote: ‘Flaubert’s attitude towards writing, his sense of perfectionism, is what I would like mine to be.’ Capote began writing at the age of eight … Continue reading

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‘I am over-run, jungled in my bed, I am infested with a menagerie of desires’: By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept by Elizabeth Smart

When Elizabeth Smart left her upper-middle-class family home in Ottawa, Canada, aged 18 to study piano for a year at King’s College, University of London, she made a move that would irrevocably alter the course of her life. While in … Continue reading

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‘I knelt and started to pray and prayed for everybody I thought of’: Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises

In October 1926 the publication of a novel by a relatively unknown 27-year-old American writer caused a literary sensation. The novel was The Sun Also Rises. The writer was Ernest Hemingway. The novel’s revolutionary approach to prose—unadorned direct sentences, understated … Continue reading

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‘Would you be interested in publishing a time bomb that I have just finished putting together?’: Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

In February 1954, the Russian-born American writer Vladimir Nabokov wrote to the publishers New Directions offering them his latest novel: ‘Would you be interested in publishing a time bomb that I have just finished putting together? It is a novel … Continue reading

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‘Sometimes I think it aint none of us pure crazy and aint none of us pure sane until the balance of us talks him that-a-way’: As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner

In 1929 William Faulkner began writing a novel in the early morning hours while employed as a nightwatchman at the University of Mississippi power plant. He had already published three novels, including The Sound and the Fury (1929), but was … Continue reading

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Sydney Writers’ Festival 2016: Jonathan Franzen on ‘My Reading Life’ from Dr Dolittle to Kafka, Pynchon and Paula Fox

Yesterday I was down at the Sydney Writers’ Festival on one of those wildly beautiful blue autumn days for a very bookish morning. First I was ‘in conversation’ with Batman-loving Heidegger-reading philosopher Damon Young about his new book The Art … Continue reading

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Charlotte Wood’s ‘The Natural Way of Things’ wins the 2016 Stella Prize

Last night I was out and about in bookish circles for the first time in months (such things are possible now my PhD is off my desk). It was thrilling to be at the Opera House on a sultry Sydney … Continue reading

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