Back in class. Sharron recommended I read TOUGH by Amy Head, a writer I had never heard of. I was thrilled to hear there was someone out there writing modern West Coast stories, so I got my hands on the book quick smart.
I love her many references to weather. This is her describing thunder, ‘Caused by whatever clash of giants, whatever despaired sobbing of the gods; for whatever means of punishment, destruction or pursuit, the downpours and snowmelts of spring sent water plummeting off the mountainsides and into the creeks and tributaries of the Grey.‘
Elsewhere she writes, ‘The river in flood is close-up, bright brown and in an exhilarating hurry.’
We crossed the swing bridge at Black’s Point on the way down to Greymouth today and the river underneath us was high, it was in an exhilarating hurry, and it was bright brown. My son asked me why it was brown, the colour of rust, and I could think of no reason why that would be. I will ask my cousin when I see him tomorrow. He knows everything about everything and will know why the colour of the river was bright brown.
And these, all the ways in which Head uses water and wetness to describe things: ‘There was a helplessness to her demeanour such as a domestic animal might display in a rushing stream’, ‘He spoke with the false starts and diversions of an insect picking its way out of a wet basin.’
I got my hands on a new library copy of Vivian Gornick’s latest book (I think it’s her latest), Unfinished business. Notes of a chronic re-reader.
It’s about the companionship of books, how constant they are. To illustrate this, the author goes back and re-reads some old favourites. I love Gornick. She has had a long life already, she is very wise, and it’s all written down, from all those years – such a productive life.
She appreciated D. H. Lawrence, she says, because he ‘got down brilliantly the crime of repressed feeling – this is where his genius succeeds without parallel.’
She writes about Natalia Ginzberg and Doris Lessing. Gornick is a feminist from way back – an early 1970s second-wave feminist, and she was there on the battle lines. I will read anything by her.
She says of Lessing’s book on cats, ‘another clear instance of my having to grow into the reader for whom the book was written, and for whom it had, all this time, been waiting.’ A nice example of the magic of writing and reading, and the communication between writer and reader which is always alive and will live forever. No book is ever wasted.