Main delivers the story as an articulate, high-level, continuous stream of reported conversation from a certain ‘V’, who discusses the fit and misfit between nationality, persons and cultural artefacts, and how all this relates to notions of belonging and exile. Fans of Temptation will know that the collection includes a more obvious candidate for this anthology, but ‘Shakespeare on the Buses’ highlights the extent to which the arts provide a home for those with only tenuous ties to any nation’s turf. ‘V’ guides us through her carefully curated mind-space, sharing choice exhibits, and passing on insights that come bubble-wrapped in verbiage, to be transported away to the mind museums of other wanderers like herself.
[Many thanks to Nicholas Royle for introducing me to Main’s work, and for gracing Anglophones with the first English translation of Vincent de Swarte’s Pharricide (Cōnfingō), which features a macabre artist, of sorts. Royle’s translation is shortlisted for The Society of Authors’ TA First Translation Prize.]
First published in Temptation: A User’s Guide, Salt, 2018