Sunday, January 13, 2008

Nick McDonell

Nick McDonell is the author of the novels Twelve and The Third Brother.

Alex de Waal, who taught McDonell at Harvard and is a recent contributor to Writers Read, told me that McDonell was with him "in Darfur in November... reading E.M. Forster's Passage to India in between [their] sojourns in the Arab nomads' encampments."

I asked McDonell about what he was reading in Africa and recently. His reply:
I was indeed reading A Passage to India out there, but left it in the hands of one Lt. Col. Moto on a dusty army base, and thus haven't finished it. I think the first half, at least, is some of the best writing I have ever read, fiction or non, about the colonial enterprise. And funny too, great awkward stuff with old British ladies accidentally wandering into Mosques and so on.

I just finished Janet Malcolm's The Journalist and the Murderer, which describes the libel/fraud lawsuit brought by convicted murderer Jeff MacDonald against Frank McGinniss, who wrote a book (Fatal Vision) about his murder trial. Malcom's book dissects the relationship between journalist and subject and comes to absolutely horrifying conclusions. It manges to be a page turner and a book of moral philosophy at the same time. It's dense, elegantly written, and short, which I always like. Reminded me of Arendt's Eichmann in Jerusalem, which I am re-reading as I try to write about the war criminals in Darfur. Also am enjoying Murakami's Kafka on the Shore before I go to sleep at night.
Read more about McDonell's novels Twelve and The Third Brother at the publisher's website.

--Marshal Zeringue