Delicious descriptions from Down Under: Thea Astley on oddballs
Thea Astley is one of my favourite writers and so I thought my next Delicious descriptions should be from her. It won’t be the last because her writing is truly delicious. Up till now, my Delicious Descriptions have been of landscape/environment. This one is about people. It’s from Drylands (1999), her last novel (or, really, a set of connected stories) and fourth Miles Franklin Award win. Its subtitle is “a book for the world’s last reader” and it’s based on protagonist Janet’s belief that “no-one’s reading anymore”, that “smartarse technology” was invading people’s lives and resulting in alienation and disengagement. (What would she say about the rise of e-books?) Astley exaggerates, of course, but her belief in the social disintegration that inspired the book is palpable.
It is full of evocative quotable writing, but for this post I’ve chosen one that describes the characters of the town, Drylands, that Janet lives in:
What’s great about these godforsaken holes, Janet decided next morning, leaning over her small balcony and watching the place rub its eyes and start to wake up, are the oddballs. They stand out. You meet them. They enrich. No. More. They furbish the day.
Furbish the day! Thea Astley may have passed on to the big library in the sky, but she left behind an astonishing body of work that can’t help but furbish the days I choose to dip into them.