Bruce Chatwin

Anatomy of Restlessness

From the NY Times:

Chatwin’s collection of unpublished letters is coming out in a 500-page compilation called Under the Sun, due in North American bookstores at the end of May.

The appearance of these letters, 22 years after maestro’s death at the age of 48, revives a curiosity never fully satisfied. It’s another chance to follow the far-flung tracks that Chatwin so often covered.

Throughout the letters he mailed from Kabul and Kenya and Katmandu, one can find fast, sharp renderings of misadventures and more.

All the landscapes he trod, from West Africa to the Welsh border, got fantastically rearranged inside his head and emerged somehow more real, if less verifiable, on the page.

He remained an artist of selection and arrangement, paring away where he might have piled on: “Ow! the strains of composition and of keeping up the momentum,” he writes to Wyndham in 1978. “How to eliminate the longueurs without eliminating the sense.”

The discipline he did transform was the narrative of exotic, solo journeying. For all his preoccupation with those large themes, his practice on the page was to shatter the big picture into bright shards, and to see history through its living human relics, people who seemed to be waiting for him with the tales and trinkets and pigmentations of some improbable past.

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2 thoughts on “Bruce Chatwin

  1. I love the writing, strange though tircky to comprehend for an average, everyday reader. Never run into Chatwin Chatters…

  2. Soooo wonderful!
    I had all Theroux’s books in London…
    thank you for introducing me to Chatters!
    Truly original!
    Like you….Deja!

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