The Destiny Thief: Essays on Writing, Writers and Life
(ALLEN & UNWIN, 224 PP, £18.99)
Tablet bookshop price £17.09 • Tel 020 7799 4064
For a compendium of journalistic chips fallen from the senior novelist’s work-bench, The Destiny Thief is on the slim side – barely exceeding its 200th page and, in some of its repetitions, suggesting that its Pulitzer-winning author finds the obligation to produce pieces of “occasional” writing a bit of a chore. On the other hand, the material turns out to be thoroughly representative of the genre in which it resides: musings on the career to date; introductions to the classics; reportage from a professional trip to Bulgaria. John Updike might have done it at three times the length, but he would have approved the animating principle.
Readers of Richard Russo’s novels – all too few, you suspect, on this side of the Atlantic – will be interested to know that their tone expertly reproduces itself in his non-fiction, which is to say that its ruminative, head-scratching folksiness is entirely deceptive.