Into the shadowed heart


By far the most interesting thing in the always interesting magazine The Monthly this month is the Pico Iyer review of Nicolas Rothwell’s The Red Highway, a book I liked a lot as I blogged about recently.

Iyer’s long review calls Rothwell’s book ‘masterful and unforgettable’ and proceeds to make more links between Rothwell and some of his characters than I’d made in my first reading; which is what good reviewers should do.

Iyer also draws in threads between Rothewell and another old favourite, W. B. Sebald, an author whose work I’ve admired for a long time. ‘These writers are reporting on the world, but in the process they penetrate into some private and haunted space they can’t escape.

It’s a lovely review, of a powerful book and an argument for the longer kind of review not seen now in newspapers. Towards the end of the review Iyer writes:

The innocent browser may, picking up The Red Highway, think it is a ‘travel book’. She couldn’t be more wrong.  It is in fact a book about being shriven and broken down and brought so close to oblivion that you are released to something else. Though full of long drives into the bush, it has nothing to do with locomotion, and everythig to do with being stirred and moved, carried out of the self …  (Rothewell) carries us higher and higher with his antique elegance and a rapt, attentive interest in everything human, vegetable and celestial tht tempts one to use the almost outdated word ‘sublime’.

Worth the price of the magazine for this review alone.


The Red Highway


Another early (?) contender for my book of the year award, I just finished reading Nicolas Rothwell’s The Red Highway, a strange kind of disconnected personal journey into the heart of Australia, that grew on me the more I read it.

Sure, it’s ‘implausible’, and I had trouble figuring out whether I was framing this as fiction or non-fiction, but it’s not ‘implausible nonsense’ as one reviewer put it. There’s a range of viewpoints on the Crikey blogs HERE and a fairly positive review by Liam Davison in The Australian HERE, but some passages were wonderful.  I asked my daughter, who works at ‘Readings’ how I should categorise this and she didn’t hesitate: “Landscape Memoir”.  That’s my favourite category!