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Baker's Dozen

A Life Turning Pages: Robert Forster's Favourite Books
Aug Stone , April 8th, 2020 09:22

The Go-Betweens founder takes Aug Stone through his 'eclectic even to himself' reading tastes


Elizabeth Hardwick - Sleepless Nights
I read this in London in the 80s and it was a perfect London book - dark, interior, heavy poetics. A very unique one-off book, a poetic memoir, just amazing. She was mainly an essayist and was married to the poet Robert Lowell at one stage. There's a chapter that's set in New York, I'd say in the early 50's, where she and a gay male friend strike up a friendship with Billie Holiday, but like as fans. She writes about them going to see Billie Holiday and then visiting her one time in a hotel, and it's just the most amazing chapter. It's quite poetic, quite tough, this sort of clipped style. It's a thin book, very poetic, very unusual, very powerful. She wrote it in the late 70s and it's become a classic. It's just a very wild book. Impressionistic and poetic, beautifully written. And the chapter with the encounter with Billie Holiday, which is only about twenty pages long, is very powerful. I re-read that every couple years to refresh myself as a writer.