Every Love Story Is A Ghost Story; Into Africa; Winter Journal
Charmaine Chan: e- and audiobook reviews for September 23
Every Love Story is a Ghost Story
by D.T. Max
D.T. Max may never have met David Foster Wallace, but that in no way weakens this insightful account of the American writer, who hanged himself in 2008 at the age of 46. Max, a writer with
The New Yorker, chronicles Wallace's life of depression, drug-taking, alcoholism, attempted suicides, love affairs and writing. During some periods Wallace would write obsessively, especially at Yaddo, an artists' community in New York where he came under the wing of Jay McInerney. His love of language came from his mother, Sally, who liked to invent words. Max shows how Wallace's final decline began with an effort to wean himself off antidepressants. Despite doctors advising him on different drug combinations, and the friendship of people such as Jonathan Franzen, 12 years after his acclaimed second novel
Infinite Jest Wallace killed himself, but not before tidying up the manuscript of his last book, published posthumously. His aim? To show what it was like to be "a f***ing human being".
by Sam Manicom
Open Book Audio
Sam Manicom released
Into Africa as an audiobook after discovering there were few adventure motorcycle travel books in the format. He should find even more fans with this, the project that started his eight-year career documenting similar trips across 55 countries around the world. Fans of the genre will understand why he gave up a sales manager job on Jersey for an unpredictable way of living in exotic lands.
Into Africa recounts the highs and lows, including being jailed in Tanzania after an accident that severed the leg of a pedestrian, and hurting himself in a spill in Namibia that left him out cold for four days. Manicom also educates the armchair traveller. At Lake Bunyonyi in Uganda, he tries to coax the locals to join him in a feast of 91 crayfish but they spit it out. In Malawi he discovers a curious hair-length rule: men were allowed locks no longer than their ears. A Briton born in Belgian Congo where his parents worked, hammering rain and Africa's dank earthy smell remind him of his childhood there.
by Paul Auster
Despite Paul Auster's oblique writing style, the content of
Winter Journal is revelatory. A contemplative memoir looking back at 64 years of life, it is by turns melancholic, loving and preoccupied with ageing. One by one, he observes, things begin to happen to you "the same way they happen to everyone else". Written in the third person, as though observing his life from a distance, Auster recounts important episodes, though not in any sequence, except when he chronicles the 21 homes in which he's lived. At 31, when he came "to a dead end as a poet", he was in a house in New York impregnated with the malevolent spirits of the sisters who had owned it. A dead crow found behind an armoire was a sign of its evil. Auster, who narrates in staccato fashion, writes about the deaths of his father and later his mother, each time wondering about his lack of grief. Sexual awakening, with prostitutes and girlfriends, and years in France are references that make up a life disjointed, but significantly so.