oh i forgot – i was going to rave about helen garner.
i have just re-read the feel of steel – an excellent ‘non-fiction’ book, full of the most mind-blowingly spare and beautiful prose. i highly recommend it, as well as her earlier non-fiction book true stories.
i was just talking to bek today about meeting helen garner in a seminar last year at uni and the whole episode being like one of her short stories. for a whole hour i seemed to see the world through her literary eyes; i knew how she would describe her clothes, the colour of the shawl draped across her chair, the manner of the cup on the table in front of her. and even though she didn’t hear it, i knew just how she would write about paul hurtling down the corridor towards me, and with a reverently starstruck expression exclaiming, ‘she’s so small!’
although springing from a great sadness and melancholy and with the distance of many more years than my twenty seven, this bit from a piece called woman in a green mantle struck me. some writers might find it bleak; i find it immensely encouraging:
Sometimes the soul is tested. Nothing I do seems good or beautiful. Everything I think of writing seems trivial, pointless. I compare myself unfavourably with every writer in the world.
Still, I battle away at an essay about reading the Bible. I keep saying to myself, ‘OK – simple declarative sentences. Nothing fancy.’ It’s like exercising a stiff muscle. I’ve written a page. A page is better than not a page.