Christmas 2011: Bruce Beresford

I don’t seem to be reading much fiction these days although I’m working my way through all the novels of J.M. Coetzee.

I have read most of Wolf Hall and must be the only person on the planet who regards it as inferior to the historical novels of Bernard Cornwell.
Non-fiction includes the 5th (!) volume of Clive James memoirs, The Blaze of Obscurity, which covers, with wit and insight, Clive’s years as a TV personality; largely focusing on his years writing and presenting the “Postcard” series, which invariably showed him adrift in some remote corner of the world.
Prodigious Youth is a huge volume of Prokofiev’s diaries from 1907-1914. (Faber and Faber).  An amazingly detailed coverage of musical life in Russia just prior to the revolution, after which the vibrant talents of this era either went into exile, wrote to the dictates of the conservative Communist regime, or managed a precarious relationship with it.  
A Train in Winter by Caroline Moorehead (Chatto and Windus). In 1943, 230 Frenchwomen, connected with the resistance, were rounded up by the Nazis and deported to Auschwitz. A few of them survived and are still alive. They were interviewed for this remarkable book, which is a triumph of research, as it also involved material in German, French and Polish archives.
At the risk of appearing to be a totally pretentious prat, I can’t resist recommending the Concerto for Violin and Orchestra by the great Portuguese composer Luis de Freitas Branco (1890-1955). It’s available on  an XXI-21 cd with Alexandre Da Costa as soloist.

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