"When I read Céline I thought, 'Wow, you can do this, you can do anything!' That was a turning point, because it showed me you just have to follow your heart." Antti Tuomainen
Posts tagged "memory"
Finding stories in America's heartland

Finding stories in America’s heartland

Ideas come to writers in myriad ways. Anything is game, be it a newspaper article, an overheard conversation or a story passed down through a family for generations. The more open-ended the better, as it gives the writer more room to develop the story in their way. Novels may be based on the same ideas...
Through the valley of shades

Through the valley of shades

In the Dark Room, originally published in 2005, is a meditation on mourning and an excavation of memory. It was also Brian Dillon’s first book, and we might see it as the prelude to his subsequent essays on photography and hypochondria, artists and ruins, essayists and what he calls ‘essayism’. How, Dillon asks, does memory...
The end of the world that never came

The end of the world that never came

Some books speak infallibly and for eternity; no matter their narrative temporality, the very magnitude of their resonance transcends their present, encompasses the past, often pre-empts and preconditions the future on a universal scale that gives them a sense of almost divine omniscience and awesomeness. These will eventually become what we call rather inadequately the...
The life of art

The life of art

My friend and I went walking the dog in the cemetery. It was a Melbourne autumn: mild breezes, soft air, gentle sun. The dog trotted in front of us between the graves. I had a pair of scissors in my pocket in case we came across a rose bush on a forgotten tomb. “I don’t...
Dad after Mum

Dad after Mum

In the mornings I was still a daughter – a long hoped-for child born in early autumn. I opened the door to his study cautiously, afraid to wake him up, but he was already sitting in his armchair facing the window. Without greeting him, I went straight to the kitchen, poured some fresh apple juice...
The truth of the lie

The truth of the lie

“The duty of art (or of thought) consists in showing us the complexity of existence in order to make us more complex, in examining the mechanics of evil, so that we may avoid it, and even the mechanics of good, perhaps so we may understand them”. This is Javier Cercas’ declaration of intent at the...
Elegy in E minor

Elegy in E minor

Of a summer in Spain, where she is vacationing as a university student, M.A. will mostly recall “the portraits of Franco; you thought that was just his first name and you were surprised everyone was on such familiar terms with a head of state.” It is this subtle blend of French phlegm, disingenuously simulated naiveté...
A fresh start

A fresh start

She had decided to make a fresh start. She had to make a fresh start. And as soon as she arrived at the small apartment-hotel, chosen at random and booked in Barcelona through a travel agent, she thought it was the ideal place to allow her to stop wondering “How do I go about it?”,...
Catching the past

Catching the past

In 2014, Otto de Kat wrote a short essay for PEN, where he gives a poetic yet also practical definition of the art and skill of writing historical fiction, of crafting novels whose life must be fictional, and yet feistily rooted in factual reality. This genre has been his own home since 1998, when he...
A memory of memory

A memory of memory

Memory is our own unreliable narrator. It forgets things that matter and recalls other events that never happened. It can slip away like receding mist or haunt us in a perennial nightmare. To the extent that they track selves through time, all novels are about memory. But some are more concerned with the notion than...