Friday 20 May 2011

The look of a book

Started reading Jenny Robin Jones' handsome book No Simple Passage, (Random House, 2011) - feel a bit overwhelmed by the wealth of detail about the new immigrants, I can't remember the names and so far the personalities of the various writers quoted such as the surgeon and CE, have not emerged. I suppose that every name is the name of someone's ancestor, that someone being a potential reader. There was at least one uncommon name belonging to someone I know, I shall have to tell them.

Am shocked that the single women (those from the working class, mind you!) are kept behind bars at night. There are many such devastating details - except of course that they were not 'details' for those affected by them: the surgeon has the right to withhold rations - their food - from those who swear at him, sometimes for several days in a row!  It's a comfort to read that those who do swear appear to have food of their own.

I skip lists, too much detail for this reader. It may become more story-like - have only reached p. 45 out of 300 plus.

Was charmed by the delicate poem on the frontispiece: 

Some days we are emigrants, 
some days we are immigrants,
some days we are simply passengers
milling about on the deck.

When does a leaving behind become 
a going towards?
When does it become a here now?

And when does a keep out become
we're all in this together? 
Also bought - without hesitation - Jenny Bornholdt's latest book The Hill of Wool (Victoria University Press, 2011). I read it quickly for the first time this morning, - shall read it again in the coming days, a reader has to work on this one, and sometimes even that is no use: symbols of something are there and you either like this poem-y thing or you don't.

Undone and Memory want to be learnt by heart, for occasional recitation at appropriate times - vilanelles, I think. 
Sometimes we forget that we remember
find it distressing that the past
could so evade us, remain as merely tremor
in our brains, so that we know the former
life is there, but can't quite grasp 
the detail. Sometimes we forget that we remember.

 Also liked Christmas and After Hours... Time will tell.
The book itself is not as nice as the previous one, though the cover illustration is satisfying.

No comments: