Saturday, June 8, 2013

"brilliant, original and wry" ~ Sydney Review of Books

I see there's another superb review of In the Memorial Room, setting Janet Frame's newly published last novel in the context of Frame's other work and that of her literary peers.

" ‘It amused me,’ Harry thinks, ‘to suppose what the last word would be.’ And this, in the end, is Frame’s last word – brilliant, original and wry – on fiction, the posthumous writer, and the whole business of being the dead horse in which a pseudo-literary culture cowers, to shelter from shocks."

This review contains a perceptive and usefully pithy description of the themes of the novel:

"In the Memorial Room is both literally and figuratively posthumous. It centres around  themes of creativity, being a writer, and a writer’s posthumous memorialisation."

 'Angela will be livid' was written by Felicity Plunkett for the Sydney Review of Books and it is a long, carefully argued and researched piece, well worth a read. And it's especially valuable for bringing Frame's first posthumous novel Towards Another Summer into the discussion.

I also treasure Plunkett's illuminating and poetic description of Frame's tour-de-force ending to the book (which is deliberately and carefully structured as were so many of Frame's other novels, into the classic 'framework' of Prologue/Main Body/Epilogue):

"Tumbling across the page from this point in the novel is a hilarious, spiralling and brilliant interior monologue, a bizarre implosion jewelled with the stifling clichés that have caused Harry to deafen. Wild and mischievous, it is part Molly Bloom, part hat-salesman, part-psalm. From the novel’s quiet, observant narrative bursts forth a vibrant new language of the secret, shouting Harry, like the ‘mutinous lunacy’ he has observed earlier: a bright mosaic tessellated with all the smooth phrases he has endured."

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