“But no man’s a hero to himself.”
Nostalgia has never been rendered with such bittersweet whimsy as in Something Wicked This Way Comes, the only full-length novel written by speculative master, Ray Bradbury. The adjective-laden prose, nuanced with strokes of scent and shade and breeze, is beautiful in a uniquely poetic way. Even Stephen King, with his notorious hatred of adverbs, was an ardent fan of Bradbury’s genius, admiring his stories for their “resonance and strange beauty”.
He holds your hand in both of his, sitting on that cracked top step, his face grim and vulnerable with tender resolution. “It’ll work out. I’ll work it out.”
You stand before him, panic quickening your heart. “What are you saying?”
He meets your eyes, his conviction exposed, and your breath is gone. But surely he knew?
Surely he knew this was the end.
Last weekend Byron Bay hosted one of the largest writer’s festivals in Australia, with three days of marquee action in the Byron Arts & Industry Estate and many more satellite events and workshops in the surrounding area. Writer’s festivals are a sublime experience, crammed with ideas and reflections on culture, politics and current events as well as the wonder of fictional worlds and the nuts and bolts of the writing profession. As usual I returned home with a stack of new books to add to my bedside pile, all bearing the scribble of their maker and some rare insight into their creation.
For the heart, life is simple: it beats for as long as it can. Then it stops.
– Karl Ove Knausgård, Min Kamp
It seems, beyond all reasonable conjecture, that the latest literary sensation is not epic fantasy or young adult drama or even adult colouring books, but something altogether new and unexpected — a Nordic fictional memoir in six volumes.
You heard right. A six-volume memoir. Why, you may ask, would anyone’s life be worth six volumes of text, let alone someone who is only several decades into his life? And then, more to the point, why on earth would anyone want to read the whole damn thing?
Let’s start at the beginning.
That’s what you want, right? That’s why we’re here?
Damn. I’ll be honest, that still hurts. Got a nice swing to that left, haha.
Ok, you’re right. You ask the questions, I’m the one in the chair with the broken nose. Pretty sure it’s broken anyway. You been practicing?
Hey, all I’m saying is, it’s been a while. Hasn’t it? It’s been a while.
So I’m reading Martin Amis, because we all have to at one point or other. For some reason considered part of today’s ‘canon’, his name gets thrown around with the likes of Ian McEwan and Julian Barnes, company that should already set the alarm bells ringing.
I saw her before she saw me. A proud affect but generous smile, a turquoise wrap, a blonde shoulder-cut: not too long (not too young). I could hear her admission in my head, spoken with a wink: There are certain things one must accept with age. From the blurred corner of my eye I could make out the bright red of her lips, the dark contour of well-made eyes. She paused at the table over my left shoulder, thanking the waiter like an old friend, the kind of woman who owned a dog, a small dog, a city dog as they say here.
So, have you heard the news?
Maybe not. I stumbled across it accidentally on Twitter just this morning, but publishers and marketing departments the world over are scrambling to declare that this hitherto unexpected event has broken the internet and set millions, if not billions, of hearts a-flutter right across the known muggle universe.
New releases from four Booker-prize winners; posthumous works from Christopher Hitchens and Terry Pratchet; a tribute from William Shatner; and several commemorative reimaginings for Shakespeare’s 400th death-day. It’s shaping up to be a veritable feast of a year.