Thanks to all for the comments, suggestions and kind words that have been making their way to my inbox. Happy New Year to you – and my wish for all of us for 2013 is a life of a less speed and frenzied chaos: a little more time to ‘stand and stare’ and appreciate what needs to be appreciated. I learned recently that what I will always regard as one of my old homes – and bolt-hole when I badly needed the respite – the Fellowship of Australian Writers (WA) – is alive and well. Good on you, Trisha, and all of you who have kept it going.
Gerald Murnane. Blame Australian Book Review for an article that, to my shame, alerted me to the work of this rather famous Australian author whom, to that point, I had never read. First I read the review or retrospective on his work in ABR, then his book Inland. What stayed with me about Inland was grasslands. It was good enough to encourage me to order The Barley Patch, a lot of which was dedicated to repeating Inland … and, of course, grasslands. Can I recommend this book – an acknowleged classic – either book in fact? No. But did I enjoy them; will I remember the message? An unqualified Yes to both. Barley Patch I read as slowly as a meditation (is there any other way?), as something sufficiently important to warrant understanding and which gradually became something rather amazing. So to you, Gerald Murnane, I dedicate my pic of the watergrasses along my patch of river… In fact, I can’t think of them now as but anything but ‘grasslands’. Mesmerising.
Someone – a literary agent I had some years back – suggested that if I were to write in the same genre instead of ‘across genres’, success would come more quickly and easily. Makes sense, doesn’t it? People either like or dislike a style, a kind of book. And if they like, they follow, uh? Prob arises when your (my) personality is one that hits (likes) both the high and low notes of any and all situations and finds it impossible to choose between the two. Think a lunchtime meal with a friend, basement cafe, good food and close conversation, plastic flowers on a plastic tablecloth. Strangely close to bliss. Or Table D’Or, five-star Hong Kong, both the tablecloths and the setting sun all pink and gold, waiters with never-ending bottles of the best red or white or bubbly,or all of the aforesaid, and the man opposite with an agenda…and handsome too. Equally stimulating , wouldn’t you say? Or think uplifting music in a concert setting versus your hand resting on the back of your best-friend dog. Situations, experiences, life, genre? How can you choose? How can you live to order, write to order? I’m not sure you have any option but to follow your own beat which might thrum to a number of tunes.
On another note, I won (first time ever folks, gave me a real buzz!), a ‘subscripterthon’: for a year’s subs to one of Australia’s longest-living and grittiest literary mags: Overland. My generous prize included mini- books by Blanche Apulget (oh wow! that I were brave enough to tell all) and Dorothy Porter, a poet/ author , now moved on, who has been one of my favourites ever since I taught her book to a group of summer students at Murdoch University. In one particular session, I showed a video of the book which was well-received by the class and quite excellent altogether until the machine gurgled, baulked and the repeat button got a little stuck on a rather graphic scene late in the movie.
Please keep the emails coming. With best to you all for the months ahead,