It doesn’t happen often to me, this profound calm. Not being able to access wild places alone any more, since relocating to a city, my usual doses of calm are accessed via laughter, exercise or detailed explorations of gardens.
Crikey, that was a long sentence, that last one. I try to keep them short. Honestly.
I’m reading Crimson Lake by Candice Fox. This was prompted by watching the series, Troppo, on ABC TV. For those not in Australia, I apologise for my parochialism. I also recommend the book to you. Ms Fox is one of those authors who can dazzle with dialogue as much as plot, characterisation and location descriptions. If I were a TV producer, I’d want to convert that book to imagery too. As a mere consumer, I was already in love with Amanda and Ted, and enjoying the depiction of small town mentality and associated casual cruelties. Not because I like cruelty, mind you, but because it meant that I wasn’t the only one to notice those things.
There is such depth in the book. Humour, intelligence and compassion sit alongside clear-eyed acknowledgements of the unsavoury aspects of humanity. I can’t recall the last title that satisfied on multiple levels. I’m in awe.
And of course I’m not just talking about the book itself, but what it’s revealing to me about my own life and my own issues. After all, we bring ourselves to books. We see ourselves reflected, sometimes, and sometimes we are repelled. I’m often aware of a parallel narrator, comparing and contrasting, pointing out emotional landmarks and laughing at insights revealed by the characters on the page. It’s wizardry. It’s what I’ve been aiming for in my own book and haven’t yet achieved.
In my own book, I’m holding so much back that the rooms feel bare. I wrote about this dilemma in an earlier post. I’m fearful of revealing details that can’t ever be clawed back once in the public domain. They could be used to hurt those close to me. Maybe I’m even thinking of my writing as a form of photography, where a (word) picture steals my soul. You may not have it. And with that thought I’m reminded of someone I used to know, who, when mugged, kept five dollars hidden. It was important that this person with a gun should not get it all. And in her relationships, it seemed important that nobody should know all of her. It was symbolic. (We weren’t muggers. Just saying.) We hold things back in all sorts of circumstances, for reasons that make sense to others or not.
Ted and Amanda, on the other hand, have had so much of their lives revealed to the public that privacy seems impossible. They’ve also had so many untruths spread about them that their very existence seems impossible. And yet they make it work. Amanda with her attitude and creativity, and Ted with his gentleness and quest to understand his tormentors. Both persist.
Can you see where I’m going with this? Maybe not, so I’ll tell you. I see parallels with trans people. Especially now, with my rewriting process underway, and the accompanying bray of prominent politicians as they throw trans people under the bus in the lead-up to our national elections.
Sorry, another long sentence. They make me so uncomfortable, both those long sentences and the immoral behaviour of privileged pollies who use the relatively powerless as political footballs. Crikey, now I have to apologise for mixed metaphors as well as mentioning football itself, which almost needs a trigger warning these days. Moving on…
There are so many sub-plots and sub-themes in this book that I appreciate. I even enjoy noting where the book differs from the TV adaptation. The characters and location are so vivid, so real to me. I think the last time I got so excited about a TV series was when Annika screened on ABC TV. I watched each episode at least five times, for the gentle humour and wild Scottish landscapes as much as anything else.
All I really wanted to say was that this book is giving me lessons in resilience, while thoroughly entertaining, enriching and emboldening me. I hope that it does the same for others. And I’m excited to add another highly gifted author to my reading list.
PS: the book has queer content that the TV series omitted.
Today’s photo was taken by moi.