The Weekend Australian - Review - - Viewpoints -

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

Write to re­view@ theaus­tralian. com. au.

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