I’d never read a David Malouf book before this; he always seemed a bit too much like Real Literature. However, Mum had to read this for one of her English subjects – Classics, maybe, actually – and she recommended it. So I borrowed it, and I’ve just read it. It’s Malouf’s fairly fabulous conception of what might have happened to Ovid after his exile from Rome.
It’s pretty weird, I’ve got to say: based on the idea that as a child Ovid encountered a feral child, and then in his place of exile encounters another (the same??) feral child, whom he attempts to ‘civilise’. It’s really about Ovid (re)discovering himself as a person, I guess, and as natural, separate from being a Roman citizen… ok so it’s pretty hard to explain. It’s also written in the present tense, which is an added dimension of interesting-ness. It is beautifully written, lots of sparse description (which is not an oxymoron, if you think about it), although oddly it also felt very un-described. Maybe this is what makes it Literature? And the fact that the entire story is told in just 150 pages?
Anyway, because it is only 150 pages long and it’s not exactly hard to read, it’s not like it’s a huge waste of time or brain space if you decide you didn’t like it after reading it.