On Shirley Hazzard

Michelle de Kretser. Catapult, $14.95 (112p) ISBN 978-1-948226-82-0
In this compact, intriguing work, de Kretser (The Life to Come) offers a series of short appreciations of fellow Australian novelist Shirley Hazzard (1931–2016). Making no attempt to be exhaustive, de Kretser carefully chooses what interests her about Hazzard’s work, covering such topics as the late author’s “unwavering belief” in the transformational potential of art, her strong sense of place, and her politics—Hazzard, de Kretser states, “reserves solidarity for the vulnerable,” making the political personal. To convey a sense of who Hazzard was in her own words, de Kretser quotes heavily from her work, inviting the reader to linger over such vivid images as the “hard apple” of a cat’s head rubbing against an arm. She also discusses characterization and “echo patterning” in Hazzard’s work, particularly in The Transit of Venus and The Great Fire. These disparate subjects are unified by the deep attachment de Kretser feels to Hazzard’s work, and the author herself. While this is unlikely to be accessible to those who aren’t familiar with Hazzard’s oeuvre, it stands as a deeply felt if idiosyncratic tribute. (Mar.)
Reviewed on : 12/06/2019
Release date: 03/01/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
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