news & views
AS Luke Slattery (The Forum, September 29-30) pointed out, The
Hare with Amber Eyes is a memoir and not the ‘‘novel of doorstep heft’’ implied by citing it among examples of fiction. In this memoir Edmund de Waal denotes and refers to history and family life, which may not appeal to all readers, but for me it illuminated poignantly catastrophic events affecting his family and introduced an intricate art form in the netsuke, about which I knew little but found fascinating. As a biography the book is a relatively short read. Slattery’s choice to mix genres is misguided. I for one found the memoir immensely satisfying. Krystyna Pindral Adelaide LUKE Slattery writes that ‘‘succinct novels prove perfectly suited to our age’’ and wins Pin-Up Boy of the Month status at this publishing house, Birdsong Press. Do shout him a beer! He aptly gives the long and the tall of the short and the sweet. We will frame his timely words for all to read. He should also get a conservation award for saving paper — and the environment. Graeme Bond Mandurah, Western Australia IN his review of Looper (‘‘No time like the past for murder’’, September 29-30), Evan Williams declares: ‘‘It’s impossible, I think, to construct a time-travel plot that is free of logical contradiction.’’ He gives as an example the Terminator films: the robot from the future can’t kill John Connor because, had he succeeded, there would have been no Connor in the future, contrary to what we already know to be true. Williams’s view is widely held and completely false. For a sparkling analysis of how self-consistent timetravel stories are possible, read the classic paper by philosopher David Lewis, The Paradoxes of Time
Travel. If you restrict yourself to the unthinking nonsense of the
Terminator or Back to the Future movies, time travel will not seem plausible. But for examples of wholly consistent time-travel stories, one need only go to two classic stories by Robert A. Heinlein: By His
Bootstraps and All You Zombies. Robert Nichols Yarralumla, ACT GOOD on you, Jane Fraser (Plainly Jane, September 29-30). Don’t let them talk you down. I’m 73 and have just completed a 1600km walk through France and Spain, followed by a stint as a volunteer hospitalero. I met many young people who asked my age and said how much they admired what I did. They hoped they could do the same when they were my age and wished their parents had my drive. Many in their 40s think the world is finished at 60. Boy, do we have news for them. Frank Appleton Wilsonton Heights, Queensland HOW does Rosemary Neill know that Jane Austen, Emily Dickinson and Miles Franklin were celibate (‘‘The vagina dialogues’’, September 22-23)? Or that ‘‘countless divorced, widowed and single women end up celibate’’? From research that I’ve seen, very, very few people of either gender are celibate. Research has also shown that a woman’s orgasm is far more intense if there is not a penis in the same room. Alison Corcoran Carseldine, Queensland To be considered for publication, letters must contain an address and telephone number for verification. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.