Tasting Life Twice
An appropriate book to be dipping into at Sydney Writers Festival time is from ABC Radio National's queen of author interviews, Ramona Koval.
Essentially, if Koval can’t get an interviewee to open up, it's likely she talking to a dead mussel. Even the famously taciturn Joyce Carol Oates became voluble in the face of Ramona’s persistent, knowledgeable, sensitive and charming interrogation. (The resulting transcript makes fascinating reading because you can pick the very moment when Oates succumbs!)
That’s another interesting thing about the collection - from Koval's Books and Writing program - as the writer's voice comes authentically and virtually audibly off the page. Edna O'Brien, for instance, has always been a compelling speaker in her whispery, precise Irish mist-poetic way and here she is at her articulate best. David Malouf, on the other hand, is waspish and snippy while ranging far and wide in his responses.
There are 26 interviews including Toni Morrison, P.D. James, Susan Sontag and Ian McEwan. Altogether they make an absorbing book to dip into and savour.
Tasting Life Twice - conversations with remarkable writers, Ramona Koval, ABC Books, $34.95