Sunday, September 9, 2012


... but he sometimes remembered having told one or another class that the writer Flaubert had claimed, or was reported as having claimed, that he could hear the rhythms of his still unwritten sentences for pages ahead. Whenever the man had told this to a class, he had hoped to cause his students to reflect on the power of the sentence over the mind of a certain sort of writer; but he, the man, had often supposed that the claim, or the reported claim, by Flaubert was much exaggerated.

  From 'The Boy's Name was David', by Gerald Murnane, in The Best Australian Stories 2002

I found this book in the Lismore City Library last week. I went there because I was in town and I was feeling anxious. It was an almost an overwhelming compulsion to go in there, and I gave in to it.   I like the way libraries make me feel. I do like the feel of books around me; books that might be borrowed rather than bought, the surprise of what I might find.  Things are relatively calm and ordered there, as well as familiar. One library is very much like another, I've found. I've taught a lot of writing classes in libraries. On the whole, I prefer to conduct a writing class in a library - even a school library - than in a classroom. And I've spent time in libraries waiting for librarians to take me somewhere - to my motel room, or to another town, or to an airport home. I've never minded waiting like that.

I think maybe I went in there so that I would discover this particular paragraph, which reminded me that I need to get the rhythm of my sentences going - otherwise it's like getting onto a bicycle and going too slowly - you tend to wobble and fall off. 

Friday, September 7, 2012


Rising to the challenge, Kate!

I love looking at people's books, and looking at their shelves is surely a window into their soul (at least into their personality).

So here are my shelves, untouched and not rearranged for camera:

The attic shelves. Yes - this is a real attic I'm writing from. Or as we call it, 'the loft'.

Detail of attic shelves. Most of my favourites are up here.

And then there are various downstairs shelves...

Detail of my cookery books, which now I look at it, are on a really dirty shelf (see, I told you it was unedited). Some of these books need throwing out. There is a copy of Claudia Rodan's 'Middle eastern Food' held together with a rubber band, and other 40 year old books that are almost compost. But I love them and use them.

Not shown: the shelves in my workroom, which is away from the house, and I can't be bothered going down there to photograph them. But they're almost empty, as I've been culling my books drastically, due to an impending move. But if I were to show them, I would focus on the 6 volumes of Proust, lent years ago by a friend, and never read.

So show us your shelves ... No cheating, mind ...