Saturday, October 13, 2012

Hilary Mantel in The New Yorker

The New Yorker comes through again! I have said this several times over the years, but I am so grateful for the great articles in The New Yorker, especially those about writers, books, and related literary topics. In this week's (10/15/12) issue, there is a terrific profile of the author Hilary Mantel, written by Larissa MacFarquhar. Titled "The Dead are Real: The Imagination of Hilary Mantel," this 11-page article details Mantel's difficult life, her discovery of her love of historical fiction (NOT, emphatically, "historical romance"), and the intriguing contrasts between her contemporary novels and her historical novels. The former are bleak; the latter are full of life and richly reflect her love of the eighteenth century, and then of the era of Henry VIII. Her most well-known and well-received book, and the one she herself says is her best, is "Wolf Hall," about Thomas Cromwell, an advisor to King Henry VIII. "I knew from the first paragraph that this was going to be the best thing I'd ever done," she says. Personally I greatly admire her work, yet have trouble getting into it. I read a couple of her contemporary works, but they are so pessimistic, so savage, that I can't read any more of them. I also am not generally drawn to historical novels, even ones that are as highly acclaimed as "Wolf Hall," so I have not read it. Yet. After reading this article, I am tempted to read the novel. This profile of Mantel is riveting, and I am appreciative once again of the New Yorker's giving readers such well-written, compelling articles on writers and literature.

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