In this superb novel, everyone’s pain suddenly becomes illuminated and now to encounter people is to encounter them lit up where they hurt.
As you may know, I have a separate biography blog, A Biographer in Perth, concerned with the life of Katharine Susannah Prichard and the art of biography, topics slightly more specialised than this present blog, which aims at a more general audience. But some topics fall between the stools, like perhaps Miles Franklin’s My Brilliant Career. You can read some stray thoughts on it from me, which add up to a partial review; and also a post on its connections with Katharine Susannah Prichard. There’s also a link on the other blog so you can follow it by email.
Crow’s Breath is John Kinsella’s fine new collection of twenty-seven short, intense stories. It’s centred around the wheatbelt of Western Australia, with forays west to Fremantle, south to Pemberton and north to Carnavon. In about the middle, a character travels to London in “Statue” and the stories after this move with expatriates to Ireland and the USA as well. A common thread is the exploration of Australianness, the different ways of Australians living in this country and out of it. Kinsella shows an ability to inhabit a rich diversity of Australian characters.
My song of the moment is Bill Callahan’s “Small Plane”, a singer new to me. It sounds like a song Leonard Cohen might have recorded between Songs from a Room and Songs of Love and Hate if he had a gentler heart. I was playing it a lot last week in the midst of revising my novel. It’s a strange song, keeping quite strictly to its subject matter, the memories of flying a small plane with a lover or perhaps a parent. “You used to take me up; I watched and learned how to fly.” It reads as an extended metaphor which never fully declares itself, and thus stays elusive and richer.