on the writing & reading trail

Days 40-42 (June 23-25)

Editing: Reformatted first 50 pages of Present hope and carried out minor editing. Preparing for submission to a manuscript development program with limited entry. Hoping! But not too hopeful.

Reading: Dipped into the Scroggins book over the weekend but concentrated mainly on a first novel, Past the shallows by Favel Parrett, that was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award and was compared favourably with Tim Winton’s work. Although both authors demonstrate a clear love for surfing, I failed to find a writerly connection even though there were several lyrical sea and landscape passages. I haven’t finished the book yet. See http://www.milesfranklin.com.au/2012/bio_favellp for some background information.

Although I get the storyline I haven’t been able to identify with any of the family characters or feel for the sadness of it all. The only individual I sense an affinity with is George, who seems an outcast, except to the youngest son, and so far exists on the periphery of the main story. I suspect and hope his role will become clear as I read on.

Several of the reviewers noted the simplicity of the Parrett’s writing and in a general sense it is visibly so, but for me it seems an empty simplicity when I compare it with one of my favourite short novels, I heard the owl call my name by Margaret Craven, also a first novel.

The Craven novel made such an impression that on my first visit to Vancouver I made quite an effort to seek out the impressive collection of totems on display at the University site there, and then last year when visiting the First Nations Museum in Ottawa was overwhelmed to find a reconstruction of the living quarters of the Kwakiutl people. I felt I knew each one of Craven’s characters intimately as I read and they have stayed with me now for many years. I must read the book again. By coincidence it was returned to me last week from a loan to a friend. http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/709.Margaret_Craven provides some quotes from the book which made New York Times best seller lists in 1973. The author died in 1980 in her seventies.


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