My Jane Gardam review in the Quarterly Conversation

My review of Jane Gardam’s The Man in the Wooden Hat appears in the new Spring 2010 issue of The Quarterly Conversation.


3 Responses to “My Jane Gardam review in the Quarterly Conversation”

  1. 1 sshaver March 3, 2010 at 8:30 PM

    Possibly relevant to the recent post on the way the news is changing is a very thoughtful piece in the NY Review of Books March 11th called “Publishing: The Revolutionary Future” by Jason Epstein. He loves books, physical books, but also sees which way the wind is blowing.

    I just found your previous very interesting post about the Dust Bowl. Donald Worster is a most gracious man whose seminal work on the Dust Bowl was very important to mine, and if I may say so, I would invite you if you ever have time to add comments from your point of view at Thanks!

  2. 2 char September 20, 2010 at 6:38 PM

    I (ashamedly) admit that I didn’t read your review on Jane Gardam. And more to the point, I’ve got no clue who Jane Gardam is.

    I wanted to compliment and thank you for your thoughtful discussion on J.M. Coetzee’s work (link: Disgrace is hands-down one of my favorite books, and it’s one that is compulsively readable. However, I’ve always had trouble wrestling with the book and what it’s getting at (though this is certainly one of its main attractions).

    I’m a wet-behind-the-ears college grad who studied ecology, so my exposure to literary theory is limited at best. But from what little I’ve learned from Said, Lakoff, Althusser, and others it seemed that all the other reviews of Disgrace did it an immense injustice by harping about it being an allegory of “darkest” South Africa post-apartheid. Disgrace is simultaneously about so much more and so much less than that—at a very simplistic level, it represents a macrocosm of violent power structures funneling into the microcosm of a particular man’s life in a particularly fucked up society.

    I had no way to put into words what I thought was at the core of the book, so I am grateful for your accurate assessment that “[no] matter how virtuously Lurie might behave for the rest of his life, there can all the same be no expiation for his sins. Similarly, no amount of morally upright behavior in the present could possibly change the brutal and incontrovertible facts of South Africa’s history of racism, oppression, and violence…Coetzee sees no alternative: we must strive to live ethical lives, even in situations where acting virtuously will bring about no practical good. For Coetzee, to do otherwise is to side with the oppressors.”

    Your review, particularly the closing paragraphs, was wonderful, succinct, and it rings true. Thank you for helping me work out the muddled mess of thoughts that I had about Disgrace.

  3. 3 Celesta July 30, 2013 at 3:07 PM

    Today, while I was at work, my sister stole my iphone and tested to see if it can survive a twenty five foot drop, just
    so she can be a youtube sensation. My iPad is now destroyed and she has 83
    views. I know this is completely off topic but I had
    to share it with someone!

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Recent Publications

Review of J.M. Coetzee and Ethics: Philosophical Perspectives on Literature, edited by Anton Leist and Peter Singer. The Quarterly Conversation, September 2010.

Review of Union Atlantic by Adam Haslett. The Region, June 2010.

Review of The Man in the Wooden Hat and Old Filth by Jane Gardam. The Quarterly Conversation, Issue 19, Spring 2010.

Review of 1989: Bob Dylan Didn't Have This to Sing About by Joshua Clover. ForeWord, November/December 2009.

Review of The Humbling by Philip Roth. Identity Theory, November 25, 2009.

Review of Imperial by William T. Vollmann. PopMatters, September 18, 2009.

Review of Wonderful World by Javier Calvo. The Quarterly Conversation, Issue 17, September 7, 2009.

Review of Of Song and Water by Joseph Coulson. Identity Theory, August 3, 2009.

Review of Digging: The Afro-American Soul of American Classical Music by Amiri Baraka. ForeWord, July/August 2009.

Review of Death in Spring by Mercè Rodoreda. Rain Taxi, Summer 2009 (#54). Viewable online via Powell's Books

March 2010
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