16 February 2012

Ivan Vladislavic's The Loss Library

“Not writing is always a relief and sometimes a pleasure. Writing about what cannot be written, by contrast, is the devil’s own job.”

In this unusual text, a blend of essay, fiction, and literary genealogy, South African novelist Ivan Vladislavic shares with us his notebooks from the last 2 decades, where he's recorded his ideas for stories or, as he calls them, "unsettled accounts" and in the process he has written "an extraordinary book about both the nature of novels and the process of writing.


The Loss Library will appeal to anyone seeking to understand the almost magical and mythical experience of breathing life into a new work of fiction." 

"At the heart of the text, like a brightly lit room in a field of debris, stands Vladislavic’s Loss Library itself, the shelves laden with books that have never been written. On the page, Vladislavic tells us, every loss may yet be recovered."

Vladislavic's prose "is stunning. It gives the impression of the words and the phrases having been caught from the inside—as though the author lives on the other side of language, where every word is strange and dancing, and the way they are put together produces complicated patterned exchanges like minuets.”—Tony Morphet

“In the tradition of Elias Canetti, a tour de force of the imagination.”—André Brink.


The above text is adapted from the University of Chicago Press books page at: 
http://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/distributed/L/bo12359500.html


I first met Ivan Vladislavic in the home of Lionel Abrahams, when we were all part of a reading group called The Circle of Eight in the mid- to late 1970s. Each person would read their work in progress. I can still vividly recall the first time Vladislavic, then a very young man, walked in the room. He did not say much. He had a kind of brooding, James Dean air and the quietest of voices. Then he read the most exquisitely funny short story ... We were instant fans.


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