Performance, by David Coventry

New Performance, by David Coventry (Fiction)

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Performance is a self-portrait like no other. David Coventry takes us into his experience of ME, a debilitating systemic disease which took hold in March 2013 but has roots in his childhood.

For Coventry, ME radically overturns the rules of time, thought and embodiment – an experience which has shaped the writing of this book. Through an illuminating blend of life transcription and deep imaginative projection, he shows how placing fiction into the stories of our damaged lives can remind us of who we are and who we might have been, even when so much of us has been taken away by illness. 

From a mountaineering disaster in Kaikōura to a literary encounter in Austria, a country mansion to a volcanic archipelago, this novel is a strikingly vivid, at times disorienting series of journeys, stopovers and emergencies that take in the world, one in which Coventry is often an outsider, even when at home in Wellington. With purposeful unreliability and flashes of humour amid pain and searching, Performance takes us into a space where ‘reading’ itself fails as a description of how we meet the text. This is a generous, unforgettable vista of life within illness.

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