Stopped buying & reading the Sydney Morning Herald on a regular basis about a month ago because I was sick of their increasingly shallow & sensational approach to news & current affairs. Switched to The Australian which, while deeply conservative in many respects, does give a wider & less parochial consideration both to what is happening & what it might mean. So I suppose I shouldn't be surprised at the miserable review of Luca Antara the SMH published this weekend. Must be a piece of attempted cleverness on someone's part to have it reviewed as a work of fiction, which it isn't, & this smart-arsedness is echoed in the review itself, which says, on the one hand, that the book exorcises the spectre of fiction and on the other that Luca Antara is yet to be written - huh? I think what the guy is saying is that I wrote a book like this because I wasn't able to write a novel. Echoing, it's true, something I - or 'the narrator' - also says at one point. The earnest often fail to recognise irony & thereby take seriously what is meant in jest, in the same way that the mean-spirited sometimes resent generosity in others. Everyone who writes knows that there is a shadow side to their work, a possible view or assessment of it that condemns it as negligible or nugatory; just as there is an alternative view that overstates its claims or reckons all that is attempted, achieved. Guess you hope reviewers see both possibilities & negotiate some kind of accord between them. What you don't ever want to read is a response that seems to arise out of anger or dismay at your temerity in writing the book at all. Unfortunately, that's what seems to have happened here. It's galling, particularly since the review focuses on formal matters, which aren't of particular interest to me, at the expense of content, which is, but what can you do? Something about the fiction of non-fiction was perhaps always going to end up in the Herald's too hard basket.

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