What happens to our past when we can no longer remember?
What an amazing, complicated, unpredictable, enduring and fragile thing is memory. It is like a river. It can silt up and need dredging, it can flood and destroy, it can lose its way. It is like a river of moonlight, evanescent. When it goes dark, navigation is treacherous.
—Janette Turner Hospital, ‘Moon River’, Forecast: Turbulence
Once you begin looking, you see punctuation everywhere…
One night they fell asleep, side by side, on Maud’s bed, where they had been sharing a glass of Calvados. He slept curled against her back, a dark comma against her pale elegant phrase.
—A. S. Byatt, Possession
Another impossible, heroic attempt at defining love:
Love is a smoke made with the fume of sighs
—Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet
The quote: from the eponymous story in Josephine Rowe’s brilliant 2012 collection. The butterfly: discovered in my attic room on arrival at Hawthornden Castle, Scotland, in winter 2010, where I went to work on a novel in which butterflies are everywhere.
How little it takes to be changed, and how difficult to know of it. How little we can see, even from here.
—Josephine Rowe, Tarcutta Wake
As it happens, sometimes, in life… This from one of my favourite novels.
I remarked one day that if our characters could have been combined we may have made between us one good person.
—Jessica Anderson, Tirra Lirra by the River
This from the wonderful Cate Kennedy’s first collection of short stories. Her new collection is Like a House on Fire.
Just wait, and the sea returns everything to you.
—Cate Kennedy, ‘Flotsam’, Dark Roots
I can imagine a life spent watching clouds…
I searched the clouds for omens, answers. They seemed to be moving very fast, dome-shaped, delicate, connective tissue. The face of art, in profile. The face of denial, blessed.
—Patti Smith, Woolgathering
One of the things I love about fragments is their inherent ambiguity.
… the camera could lie after all. Proffering a fractional moment caught in time, with no sense of the before or after, nor all the things that made it so. A false imprint that cheated memory.
—Emylia Hall, The book of summers
From one of my favourite novels of 2012, much awarded, and deservedly so. Anna Funder will be giving the closing address at the Perth Writers Festival in February 2013.
The clouds are retreating over the street and the front garden, away from me in my dressing gown in my house, out to sea. In Sydney’s spring they perform each morning, rolling back from us like a tin-lid on sardines. The birdcall is intense. I choose to believe it is joy at the new day, but I know they’re checking to see who has made it through the night.
—Anna Funder, All that I am