Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Silence, Exile, Cunning

Jimmy Joyce’s words in The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.

Woolly Days read them again recently in David Malouf’s "Johnno", a paean to growing up hard in Brisbane in the forties and fifties.

Johnno was half choice for One Book One City in 2004, the typical half-assed result of a decision by consensus.

The other half of Two Books, One City was The Girl Most Likely by Rebecca Sparrow – who is not to be confused with Roberta Sparrow, Grandma Death in Donnie Darko, the author of The Philosophy of Time Travel, a book that is not yet written therefore unlikely yet to be half choice for One Book One City.

But I digress. Malouf, like Joyce (and Woolly Days) has chosen the path of exile. Like Joyce, WD has forsaken Ireland. Like Malouf, WD has a strong empathy with Brisbane. Though whether silence has been a strategy for any of us, is a matter of some cunning debate.

For Malouf, Brisbane was a point of departure; for this blog, it is the destination. But the Brisbane of the 21st century is radically different from the country town that the ‘reffo’ Malouf grew up in. He remembers it as ‘staid, old-fashioned but also full of tropical trees all spiked and sharpened in the early sunlight'.

A place without poetry maybe, but beautiful nonetheless.

Brisbane is now cityscape, inescapably dragged into a real world where summertime is one hour ahead, not twenty years behind.

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