For Anthony Rudolf, reading is a profoundly serious and intense activity, as well as a major source of pleasure and solace. At the same time, it is always interrupted by day jobs, friendships, politics, and, paradoxically, by the act of writing. All of this comes together in "Silent Conversations: A Reader's Life", a canny and insightful memoir of Rudolf's life in books. A quest for hope in dark times, "Silent Conversations" captures Rudolf's inimitable style and his own admitted tendency to digress - with invariably fascinating and revealing results. Among the threads that crisscross all the sections are fragmentary dialogues with a number of interlocutors - including Paula Rego and Yves Bonnefoy, whom Rudolf has been translating for nearly fifty years - that explore the essentials of the life of a thoughtful and committed individual in a troubled and frightening world. At once old-fashioned and completely contemporary, Rudolf seeks in this work to share his reflections with others through story and image.
In this network of voices, a labyrinth of collage and quotation come to life, doing the work of analysis and critique (of himself and others), and following threads of interest through and across its pages. With a deft lyricism, a light touch, and a sharp wit, Rudolf provides a detailed account of his passions and obsessions: memory and mortality, painting and music, the fate of the earth, and many other things that touch on his life as a reader and as a writer. "Silent Conversations" is characterized by Rudolf's witty and tender approach to life and literature. Notwithstanding his lifelong need for mentors, including Octavio Paz, George Oppen, and Primo Levi, Rudolf is very much his own man.