An Ornate Emotional Vivisection

How did I miss this? (Simple enough: I didn’t see it in print because don’t live in Australia, and the text doesn’t appear on the website of The Australian.) Anyway, Beejay Silcox published a great review of At the Edge of the Solid World in the year’s first edition of The Weekend Australian. You can sort of get it via PressReader, albeit behind a paywall, but I also have a screenshot that will do the job (click to enlarge):

Silcox’s review is, as you’ll see, more mixed than the others the book has received, though no less insightful or attentive to the details. For her, the branches of the timelines are “marvels of narrative engineering, but to be admired as one might admire the workings of a wind-up clock, all cogs and ceaseless ticking,” and she judges the Port Arthur chapters to be “a terrible miscalculation.” For my part, I wouldn’t call either of those impressions unjust. In fact, I’ll own up to having aimed at creating them, quite deliberately and for specific purposes. My suspicion is that if Silcox were to have pushed harder on these criticisms, and been given the space to elaborate on them, the result would have been a strengthening of her views, albeit views that stem from an understanding of the rightful origins and purposes of literature which is rather different from my own.

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