Reading, Writing, and Leaving Home: Life on the Page

Lynn Freed, Author . Harcourt $22 (234p) ISBN 978-0-15-101132-2

Freed, author of five novels and, most recently, the story collection The Curse of the Appropriate Man , offers insights into her writing and her life in 11 clean, incisive essays that mix the personal with the instructional without going too deeply into either. How autobiography shapes fiction particularly interests her: in "Sex with the Servants," Freed describes how her novel Home Ground caused a scandal in her native South Africa (at the few book-related events that weren't cancelled, all anyone wanted to know was if she'd really touched her garden boy's penis). Her family, who also appeared in print, were not nearly as outraged, and for would-be writers, Freed offers several firm pronouncements ("Writers themselves are natural murderers"; "The real writer... is a moral reprobate"), which suggest that to worry about others' feelings cheapens one's art. This apologia for the way writers skewer those around them shares space with a careful consideration of her own work's themes—alienation, family, home, travel, performance—episodic but interesting glimpses into Freed's life (a larger-than-life mother, a wild family, a troubled marriage, a difficult gig teaching writing). Freed's honesty is always tempered by what feels like cool reserve, but this nevertheless is an instructive, enlightening book. 10 b&w photos. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 07/18/2005
Release date: 09/01/2005
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 256 pages - 978-0-547-94064-9
Paperback - 237 pages - 978-0-15-603034-2
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