I AM a fan of Cormac McCarthy, pictured, but I am becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the spotlight that has been directed on his writing since the success of the film version of No Country for Old Men. McCarthy’s writing belongs to a style that was pioneered between the world wars in the US. It’s a style that achieved its ultimate expression in the minimalism of Ernest Hemingway and has been copied since by many notable American writers. According to Boyd Tonkin ( Review, April 12- 13), McCarthy is ‘‘ routinely acclaimed as the greatest American novelist since William Faulkner’’. This is just plain silly. Sometimes literary critics remind me of wine snobs in the way they clutch for obscure superlatives. McCarthy is a very good writer in a country full of very good writers.
Michael Hayes Birregurra, Victoria
TO be obsessed, at 70, with any theory is a delight I look forward to. All the best to Barrie Fraser ( Review, April 19- 20) with his work on the wrinkling of sheet steel. His account of his education is foundational, inspirational and deeply comforting. May all children be encouraged in exploring the rational space that can open up when we open the door of curiosity. Yes, theory is absurd, wonderfully so. Those who embrace this absurdity, at a young age, live in a different world.
Keith Russell Mayfield West, NSW
IT was a pleasure ( and relief) to read Peter Craven’s tribute to the late actor Paul Scofield ( Review, April 12- 13). Amid the recent deaths of Charlton Heston and Richard Widmark, I feared Scofield’s passing would command little attention. But his stature as an actor certainly did. In the right role, there was no finer interpreter of Shakespeare. His King Lear is definitive. Like Craven, I too treasure some Caedmon recordings of Scofield, including a 1964 recording of A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Scofield as Oberon. His masterful performances, even in small film roles such as poet Mark Van Doren in Quiz Show, will ensure his memory remains alive.
Matthew Gibbs Leichhardt, NSW
SIAN Powell’s positive review of Resistance by Naldo Rei ( Review, March 15- 16) raises the question of the author receiving assistance with his English. All authors receive assistance with their English in the editing process, but for second language writers it is vital. In Naldo’s case, English is his fifth language, so he does have excellent language ability. He began writing in Indonesian and, when confident enough, changed to English. His master’s study meant his academic English skills became high, but they were not exactly the skills needed for an autobiography. Moving in and out of English as he has done means Naldo’s English skills, as for all of us, fluctuate. If you don’t use a language you lose it.
Christine Doyle Concord West, NSW
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