Friday, October 15, 2010

The Homing Instinct of the Garden Snail.

This year I have read three memorable books.
At the moment I'm reading "The Elegance of the Hedgehog."
Normally I am weary of such delightful and serendipitous titles,
as in my experience they prove disappointing.
The Sound of One Hand Clapping, God of Small Things,
and anything by Salmon Rushdie and dare I say it - Janet Frame.

I tried so hard with Salmon Rushdie and Janet (said in reverent hushed tones) Frame.

However literary and eloquent the writing, I could not find the story in them.
Beautiful and eloquent prose are all very well, but I find it pointless after a while,
without a story and some characters to care about. Shame on me?

I once made myself wade through Terry Wait's account of his captivity in Lebanon,
or wherever it was, because I thought I might gain some valuable insight.
Something that I may be able to save for a rainy day.
Well I suppose I did - don't bother persevering with boring books.
The Emperor really is wearing no clothes.

So if I were writing a book, I think I would call it, "The Homing Instinct of the Garden Snail." Somebody on Radio NZ last week mentioned that there has been some research ,
attesting to the fact that they have one.

So the first really good book I read this year was "The Help." By Kathryn Stockett.

You can read a good review here. I loved it. Haven't loved a book so much in ages;
in fact not since my Wilbur Smith phase. Then I read the first Stieg Larsen book.
I was just waiting for the guy to get the girl at the end, preparing to be underwhelmed.
Didn't happen.

Which brings me to The Elegance of the Hedgehog. (image from
It's a compelling book. Full of truths, through the voice of a thirteen year old girl,
and an aging concierge in a Paris apartment.
Mostly about the naval gazing that goes on in the world,
and any other kind of parallel universe that can only be defined by the consciousness
of those who perceive it.
Ha! perhaps the key to appreciating a Janet Frame novel!
It's making me laugh. Especially the thirteen year old girl.
I keep expecting her to come up with some reason for making sparrows into composite images! It speaks to me; with the recent familiarity of raising teenagers.

So I've been playing tea parties a bit by myself,
appreciating the Domestic Godessness of it all.
And configuring my consciousness with rhubarb and coconut cake and afghans.
And proving my existential weightiness by not eating them.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Jacqui, I have also heard that The Help is a great book, another aussie here has read it and highly recommended it. It is also in the process of being made into a movie, so could be one to look out for (assuming they don't botch it). Have you read Life of Pi? He has a lovely writing style and an interesting message, one that takes a bit of thinking (and could be argued) I enjoyed that one too. Plus the Time Traveller's Wife - oh, and if you want another good one written in a teen voice, try When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead. I loved it.


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