Alan Hollinghurst: Beautiful Lines and Strangers’ Children
Alan Hollinghurst is one of the British novel’s most admired stylists. In the course of his writing career, Hollinghurst has fashioned a unique literary voice at once considered, ruminative and hauntingly affective. Appearing at Melbourne’s Athenaeum Theatre, he is joined in conversation by Michael Williams.
Amongst the topics discussed by Hollinghurst and Williams:
· What makes a good poem?
· The influence of Victorian poetry and boarding school
· The “huge prestige in writing poetry which nobody could understand”
· Being a “massive fan” of Lord of the Rings
· Beginning to feel like a writer
· Championing Ronald Firbank
· The Swimming Pool Library and its growth from earlier studies in writing
· Changing as a novelist and aspiring to formal shape
· Sympathising with, and liking, his characters and their predicaments
· Winning the Man Booker prize
· The centrality of poetry in The Stranger’s Child
· A short reading from the same
· Why skepticism is due to “almost all literary activities”
· Writing sex scenes
· Evelyn Waugh and sentimental nonsense
· The “ghettoisation” of literature
· Hollinghurst’s “complete fascination” with Henry James, and The Line of Beauty
Alan Hollinghurst’s latest novel is The Stranger’s Child. He is the author of four previous novels, The Swimming-Pool Library, The Folding Star, The Spell and The Line of Beauty.
Michael Williams is the Director of the Wheeler Centre for Books, Writing and Ideas in Melbourne. He has worked at the Wheeler Centre since inception in 2009, when he was hired as the Head of Programming before being appointed as Director in September 2011.
He has hosted Blueprint for Living (2015–2016), then Talkfest (2017–2019), on ABC RN. He remains a regular guest on ABC Radio and TV. Michael has also worked as a Breakfast presenter for Melbourne’s 3RRR, as a member of the Australia Council’s Literature Board, in publishing and has written extensively for the Guardian, the Age, Sydney Morning Herald, Australian and elsewhere.