Monday, December 17, 2012

Recent Reads - December 2012

The Necrophiliac by Gabrielle Wittkop
A weird masterpiece. It's similar to Lolita in its beautiful language and its depiction of an obsession. Nymphets are replaced by putrefying bodies however.  It introduced me to bombyx. Not for the faint-hearted, but a must read for anyone who appreciates fine writing.

Every Love Story is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace by D. T. Max
A sad and revealing account of a truly tortured talent.  He never seemed happy in his own skin despite his huge success. Very good on his academic career and on the parallels between his life and Infinite Jest.  

Beckett Remembering by James and Elizabeth Knowlson
A variety of creative types (Aidan Higgins, Paul Auster, Billie Whitelaw) and personal friends recount their memories of Beckett - not always, but mostly, positive.  He got less difficult as he got older it seems.

Philip Larkin - Letters to Monica edited by Anthony Thwaite
The great curmudgeon unmasked.  These epistles reveal a little-Englander given to moments of tenderness with his lover, and a lot of shy-making tweeness.  The outside world gets short-shrift - Yeats comes in for dog's abuse - and wogs of course at Calais.

Terra Incognita by Nabokov
Three little gems by the maestro, elegantly written and psychologically astute.

Farther Away by Jonathan Frenzen
Book reviews and essays that usually hit the spot.  He's still evidently cross with his friend David Foster Wallace for his suicide.  His fulsome review of The Hundred Brothers by Donald Antrim sent me off to research a name new to me.

The Boys by Christopher Fitz-Simon
A gossipy biography of Hilton Edwards and Michael MacLiammoir.  It's great fun reading of their frenetic life in the theatre  - always on the go, always short of money.  Being rescued regularly by Terence de Vere White. It was only after The Importance of Being Oscar that they could relax financially. Coy about their sex lives.

Review of Harry Kernoff Biography

A slightly shorter version of my review (below) of Kernoff's biography appeared in the Sunday Times Culture magazine on the 16th December 2012:

Liberty Hall by Harry Kernoff