Review: Inga Clendinnen’s “Agamemnon’s Kiss: Selected Essays”

by writereaderly

I feel a bit mixed about these essays. I prefer the essay form to short stories, but the risk of an anthology is always that it is a wee bit patchy, with too much diversity between the voices adopted for different publications and audiences. And so it was with this book. I was a bit naffed out by the first section, entitled “Backstage” aka “let’s talk about me some more” (the liver transplant AGAIN?), but I got quite a lot out of the pieces in “Dispatches” and “Secret Lives”, where Clendinnen exercised her historical and “public intellectual” skills on subjects other than herself and her own opinions: informative, considered writings on Aboriginal Australia, the Holocaust, the Aztecs, and not too bad writing style. I enjoyed reading her reviews of books I had also read, also. Not that Clendinnen was especially narcissistic, but I guess I prefer essayists being in the world rather than in themselves. Selectively recommended.

Where it came from: L’s Bookshelf (gifting lend)
Time and manner of reading: About four or five reads, beddy and armchairy
Where it went: Home
Reminds me of:
Who I’d recommend it to:
Also reading: Rabbit #4; How to Read a Poem by Edward Hirsch; Selected Essays by George Orwell; The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon; Kalila and Dimna by Ramsey Woods