Review: Street to Street

February 2013

  • William Charles

A new series of the innovative and quite brilliant ‘Shorts’ from Giramondo opens with this Brian Castro novella in which contemporary writer-academic Brendan Costa takes on the biographic challenge of Australian poet Christopher Brennan.

As Brennan emerges from his own mythology, a towering figure steeped in classicism, while drenched in alcohol and social failure, Costa himself must confront questions around notions of art, creativity and his own failure (that most grievous yet least examined of modern sins, along with its handmaiden, guilt). Castro has written a compressed, musical and remarkable work, a triumph of exquisite prose and dry humour. Few Australian novels in recent memory contain such a shimmering opening chapter, encyclopaedic and rich in lyrical imagination, and then manage to sustain that heightened sense of imagery, learning and excitement throughout. As the complex frustrations and triumphs of the life of a poet such as Brennan build, both the poet and his biographer Costa are magnificently drawn with feet of clay. Street to Street is a paean to the creative life with all its costs and burdens. Both Brian Castro and this slim masterpiece are to be cherished.

Street to Street / Brian Castro / Giramondo
 

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