David Ireland, or: a line to make me stop and think and write this

I’m slowly getting through the Australian writer David Ireland’s work, or what’s thought of as the best of it, at least. That’s only thanks to Text Publishing and Michael Heyward, who happened to send me a copy of The Glass Canoe at one point. I will be writing about that at length, and but in the meantime, on the strength of that book, I picked up A Woman of the Future. I have a pronounced weakness for writers like James Salter, Michael Ondaatje and J.M. Coetezee, who have the ability to bring me up short with an unexpected lyrical utterance. Ireland stops me every bit as completely at times, but he does it with the most unremarkable stuff. It’s like someone handed him grade-school art supplies, and he looked them over, nodded, and brought out a line of brilliant gesture drawings.

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In A Woman of the Future, it took a little over a page for him to get my attention in that way. “His past was before him like a beacon; he would keep going in that direction and call it the future.” Hawthorne’s “Wakefield,” in a single line. I look forward to the rest.

— John McIntyre

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