What I'm reading: Fergus Barrowman – Stuff.co.nz

I write this as I’m about to descend into reading all of the International Institute of Modern Letters MA folios, which I’ve been doing for 35 years. It can be hard, finding my bearings without the help of reputations, covers and blurbs, but it’s the highlight of my reading year.
The book I’ve just finished is Bewilderment by Richard Powers. It’s about climate change and our duty to coming generations.
Powers is a writer who takes on big ideas and who moralises, so is not for everyone, but he’s one of my favourite contemporary writers.
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Before that was Harrow by Joy Williams, another favourite. Harrow is in similar territory to Bewilderment, but is much wilder and crankier, and breaks every point-of-view and continuity rule in the Creative Writing textbook.
Two new theory books that I’ve found stimulating are On Compromise: Art, Politics, and the Fate of an American Idea, by Rachel Greenwald Smith and On Freedom: Four Songs of Care and Constraint by Maggie Nelson.
Writers who’ve provided a lot of pleasure over recent years include Elizabeth Taylor, Alice McDermott, Rosamond Lehmann​, Julia Blackburn, Natalia Ginzburg​. The trouble is you run out, but this winter I read two books by Barbara Pym​ – Excellent Women and Quartet in Autumn – and why did it take me so long? I’m looking forward to more this summer.
Fergus Barrowman has been the publisher of Victoria University of Wellington Press since 1985, and founded Sport along with Nigel Cox, Elizabeth Knox and Damien Wilkins in 1988. He is editor the A Game of Two Halves: The Best of Sport 2005–2019.
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