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Sat Nov 29 09:21:48 CAT 2014

Arty-farty take on love

Andrew Donaldson | 05 February, 2013 00:09
Andrew Donaldson

Short, sharp guidance and observations from a journalist with attitude. All books available from Exclusives

IF YOU READ ONE BOOK THIS WEEK

'The Black Box', by Michael Connelly (Orion) R190

DETECTIVE Harry Bosch makes a welcome return with a 20-year-old cold case, the murder of a Danish journalist who was killed in the riots in Los Angeles triggered by the beating of Rodney King. Very much in the territory of Raymond Chandler.

THE ISSUE

Novelists and other artistic types do not have a monopoly on adultery. But, as illustrated by Daniel Bullen's The Love Lives of the Artists: Five Stories of Creative Intimacy (Counterpoint), which is reissued in paperback next month, the creatives come up with more interesting excuses for their behaviour, usually along the lines that they're not cheating - merely exercising a higher spiritual freedom.

Bullen selected five relationships - psychoanalyst Lou Andreas- Salome and poet Rainer Maria Rilke; photographer Alfred Stieglitz and painter Georgia O'Keeffe; writers Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir; artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo; and novelists Henry Miller and Anais Nin - where both partners were "equals in the enterprise of free love". The equality, however, is relative; these couplings may begin as stands against convention but they end with the customary anguish and sense of betrayal.

Take Nin and Miller, for example. They began their affair in Paris in 1932, and swiftly declared theirs an open relationship in an attack on monogamy. "We are living something new," was how Nin put it. They were conventional enough, though, to hide all this from Nin's husband, a wealthy banker whose money was essential to bankroll their lifestyle.

Miller, in particular, enjoyed the money. In the end, Nin told him: "You act like a child that just asks and asks and never thinks and sucks one to death." And despite her many sexual partners, men and women, Nin would complain of being "hellishly lonely".

CRASH COURSE

The Guardian recently published a feature on noteworthy new African writers. (The South African entries were all white women: Lauren Beukes, Sarah Lotz and Rachel Zadok.) "This year is looking good for African writing," the newspaper said. "We should expect new discoveries and fresh voices to emerge from the continent as there are still stories yet to be told whilst those who have already proven themselves will likely wax stronger."

Forthcoming titles to watch out for include We Need New Names, by Zimbabwe's Noviolet Bulawayo (coming in May); Nigerian Igoni Barrett's Love is Power, or Something Like That (June); and Ghanaian Taiye Selasi's Ghana Must Go (April).

THE BOTTOM LINE

"Now I am like a roaring lion. One yip out of any of the bastards and [my critics] get a beautifully phrased page of vitriol which will haunt them for the rest of their lives." - PG Wodehouse: A Life in Letters, edited by Sophie Ratcliffe (WW Norton & Co)

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