Sarah Hall & Andrew Miller at Lit Fest.

Reviewed by Kev McVeigh

It’s interesting to note how different writers approach a reading like this. Sarah hall, after a brief hello, launched straight into reading from her novel How To Paint A Dead Man. Being familiar with the book I was aware that she actually began from the beginning of the book, but it was a bold move. Moreso as the chapter she chose is told in the second person. ‘You aren’t feeling yourself’ she begins. It disconcerts but intrigues.

Andrew Miller in contrast spent several minutes explaining the set-up of his new novel One Morning like A Bird and the characters involved. Then as he read he added further commentary, glossing who characters were, where the places were, and what had happened previously. This exposition may have been partly necessary as Miller chose to read from two sections towards the end of his book, and partly because the setting, Tokyo in 1940 is unfamiliar to us.

Hall also read from later in her book, with brief explanation. The juxtaposition of the two chapters highlighted minor themes in How To Paint A Dead Man that had evaded my straight through reading, bringing out ideas that Sarah expounded upon in later questions.

Whatever the respective merits of each approach, both writers entertained a packed Storey Auditorium in their different ways. Hall’s choices thoughtful, reflective and provocative, Miller’s finding moments of humour amidst tension that warmed us to his hero. Both offered memorable prose, intriguing ideas and stimulating reading.

Another well-matched Lit Fest pairing.


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