Friday 14 August 2009


No other writing beyond this blog yesterday.

Brought in an additional bookshelf to the room, now tidier. More tidying up planned today.

Nathan Englander in an interview: he works to compress - ninety years into eighty, eighty into seventy...ending with the book covering just 3 months. He compressed two children into one, got rid of a grandfather...P says loyally, I don't think you should get rid of your grandfather [in my book].

I am studying James Wood's book How Fiction Works (2008, Farrar, Straus and Giroux). The first chapter is about a style of writing which merges point of view and the type of speech expected from a given character - for instance, a peasant or a child having their own typical language and range of terms which they think and speak in. Free indirect style is the name he gives to this - maybe it is not just his name for it, maybe the rest of the world knows all about it and I don't. Choose the right vocabulary: it mitigates the need to explain that we are dealing with a child or a peasant, and leads to compression - that word again.

Study will be needed - everything works best when it happens unconsciously. Writing more succinctly was already the purpose of the poetry. Thinking of Penelope Fitzgerald's little books (less than 200 pp.), and of Frederik Uhlenberg's book about a German youth growing up, a slim masterpiece. I can't find it now, I hope I have not lent it to someone.

I have not yet looked at my MS. To re-read it now - a scary thought - or later, after I have studied some of the material I brought back with me. I have made room on my new shelves for the books and papers which are to be read.

At the moment am also reading a book by a NZ German born in the same year as my mother, an intelligent woman, who lived in Germany during WWII and whose father was a high-ranking officer. It gives me the shivers, but also provides background info, for instance about a festival in a Bavarian village, the kind of clothes the villagers wear, what they do. Grist to the mill. It is called Strawberries with the Fuehrer, a Journey from the Third Reich to New Zealand, by Helga Tiscenko, (2000, Shoal Bay Press). It has already been reprinted once. She manages to combine attention to detail and a good pace for the story, one does not feel bored. Well, someone like me, who wishes to write about that period, does not.

We decided to disconnect the phones in the mornings. A strong stance. I am about to reconnect my phone in order to ask someone a question which is bugging me. There you go.

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