Friday, September 23rd, 2011
What a magical night, and what an honour for Kingston. At our International Marquee, J.M. Coetzee and Paul Auster read from their correspondence, sharing their reflections on friendship and writing. It was a rich and fascinating discussion, but what made it feel so intimate and at the same time dramatic, was the epistolary form. It made me think again how close the essay is to the letter; how the best essays often feel like letters from a thoughtful friend. Both men are, of course, accomplished essayists and translators themselves, which probably helps—but there was something very moving in the leisurely pace of these letters. These were not quick notes or business memos (or, for that matter, blog posts). These were real letters; the kind that cast new light on the subject, on the author, and on the recipient all at once. What a pleasure.