Rough pas­sage for Miller’s book

The Saturday Paper - - Letters & Editorial - – Lu­cia Cal­laghan, Eltham, Vic

JR’s review of Alex Miller’s The Pas­sage of Love

(Oc­to­ber 28-Novem­ber 3) made me think we’d read dif­fer­ent books. The book I read cer­tainly does con­tain the poignancy, in­tegrity and grace JR thinks are lack­ing, and it’s dis­ap­point­ing their pres­ence was over­looked in JR’s care­less and dis­mis­sive read­ing. The review con­tains fac­tual er­rors: Robert Crofts doesn’t meet Martin and Birte “to­wards the mid­dle of the book” – it is much ear­lier. And at the time Robert meets them, Lena is not yet his wife. Robert and Martin’s con­nec­tion en­dures be­yond the gift (not loan, JR) of Doc­tor Faus­tus, and themes of friend­ship and free­dom, love and loss, are man­aged del­i­cately and deftly. JR seems not to no­tice these, or the sig­nif­i­cance of the bird mo­tif through­out. The re­flec­tive rec­on­cil­i­a­tion of the older self with the younger – the an­tic­i­pated ex­pe­ri­ence with the ac­tual – means The Pas­sage of Love is a sig­nif­i­cant lit­er­ary achieve­ment and war­rants more in­tel­li­gent review.

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