For everyone Book review: The Details

The Details: On Love, Death and Reading by Tegan Bennett Daylight


Tegan Bennett Daylight is a deep reader. She is, of course, also a writer – of both fiction and non-fiction – but, for her, reading and writing are inextricably linked. As a teacher, she despairs that now “the anomaly is the student who has read books despite the fact that they have a phone to … provide continuous company”.

She reads The Hunger Games with her own children and is dismayed by the author’s apparent ignorance of the legacy she draws upon. For Daylight, writing is a conversation – with her mother (who passed on her love of reading), with the literary tradition, and with other writers – and, in part, this book is a tribute to those who have made her an artist, from Helen Garner to George Saunders, to Dave McComb (The Triffids) and humourist S.J. Perelman.

A mix of criticism and the personal, her themes range from friendship, family, the female body, the Blue Mountains where she lives and, most poignantly, the death of her mother – always interwoven with her vast literary “storehouse” and her drive to find the right words. Written with great warmth and precision,  these essays form a vibrant picture of the power of art to enrich our lives.

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