Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Book Review: How to Read a Novelist by John Freeman


Title: How to Read a Novelist
Author: John Freeman

Summary: 'John Freeman, author and editor of Granta magazine, has interviewed nearly every name in the world of literature. In this collection, Freeman has compiled the most insightful and fascinating of his interviews, essays and articles.
In How to Read a Novelist we encounter Paul Theroux on the state of sex in America, Margaret Atwood as inventor, John Updike as relationship advisor and Geoff Dyer as England's hippest middle-aged novelist, among many others including Jonathan Safran Foer, Philip Roth, Doris Lessing, Toni Morrison, David Foster Wallace, A. S. Byatt and Peter Carey.'

My thoughts: I had the rare opportunity with this book to meet the writer before I'd even decided I wanted to read his work. Yes, this is the first out of a pile of four books I bought at the 2013 Perth Writer's Festival - let the joy begin!
I remember finding John Freeman very interesting to listen to - his stage manner was very laid-back and gentle, without being boring. And that lends itself a lot to the way he interviews the authors included within this book. He occasionally feels a bit unsure of himself within the interviews, but, rather than taking away from the experience, this only enhances my interest in his work.
The authors he has chosen to include within this book are quite varied, and I must admit to not knowing who half of them were prior to beginning this book, but Freeman has such a way of making everything sound so interesting that I have added quite a few books to my to-read list (in my mind) that I wouldn't normally have approached.
Not only is Freeman himself interesting and captivating, but all the authors included in this book bring something amazing to it - I found myself trying so hard to ration this book toward the end (to no avail) and desperately wishing there was a second volume I could immediately jump into.
As a self-professed lover of books on reading and writing, I may well be deemed somewhat biased in this category, but I believe that even if someone were to pick up this book to just read about one or two authors, they would go away thinking about it for days.

My only nitpick? That it wasn't longer.

Rating: 9.5/10

Keep up with what I'm reading over here!

2 comments:

  1. Wow, that's a pretty gracious review! Why don't you send him a letter requesting he publishes another one?

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the suggestion, but I probably won't, as I don't want to seem like I'm hurrying him along for my benefit. It would be best if it was a project he wanted to pursue :)

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