I have just finished reading a piece of fiction about a man who insists on finding out how deep the bedrock is wherever he happens to be standing. I would like to know the name of the woman who wrote the fiction. She has light-brown hair and interesting eyes, but her skin is rather weatherbeaten and her forehead is oddly wrinkled. I can never judge a person’s age. This woman might be thirty-five or forty-five. The woman’s fiction is all in the first person, and the narrator identifies himself as a man. The author—the woman with the creased forehead—claims that […]
We are not told anywhere, are we, that winters in the Garden of Eden were not cold? The olive and the lemon ripen in winter and it could not be Paradise without them. Lemon and olive, sour and bitter, my mother would say: they suit you, Manya. Mama misjudges me. I think as winter comes, why huddle here in three warm rooms? Why not go to Athens, say, and see Aunt Sophia? My dear old Aunt Sophia. Walk up to the Acropolis again. Order coffee and sit and watch the hollow city brim with a violet glow, and then lights […]
It was too early, the light still brazen, the glare strong enough to bleach the purple out of the sea. As they struggled up the road the dust shot in plumes from under their feet and settled where skin was bare and moist. They could feel it on their lips. Zoe who had fallen behind, because the bigger girls were walking so fast, watched the dust gathering on Thekla’s shoulderblades. In other circumstances she might not have approved of Thekla’s naked back, but accepted it since the Occasion perhaps demanded it. Thekla had distributed the presents the four of them […]
‘The third occasion on which he came in contact with the Feinsteins Waldo knew there was no escaping something that was being prepared. Mrs Feinstein’s formal note deliberately arranged it for the Saturday. So that you are able to introduce us to your brother, the writing ended underlined.’
From the Meanjin archives, fiction by Patrick White first published in 1965.
First mother went away. Then it was our father, twitching from under our feet the rugs, which formed, he said, a valuable collection. We were alone for a little then. Not really alone, of course, for there was Fraulein Hoffman, and Mademoiselle Leblanc, and Kyria Smaragda our housekeeper, and Eurydice the cook, and the two maids from Lesbos. The house was full of the whispering of women, and all of us felt melancholy. Then it was explained to us by Mademoiselle Leblanc that she and Fräulein Hoffman had gone out and sent a telegram to Smyrna, and soon the aunts […]
Fragment of Voss, a novel. So the party entered the approaches to hell, with no sound but that of horses passing through a desert, and saltbush grating in a wind. This devilish country, flat at first, soon broke up into winding gullies, not particularly deep, but steep enough to wrench the backs of the animals that had to cross them, and to wear the bodies and nerves of the men by the frantic motion that it involved. There was no avoiding chaos by detour. The gullies had to be crossed, and on the far side there was always another tortuous […]