In my recent review of Francesca Rendle-Short’s fiction-cum-memoir, Bite your tongue, I concluded on the suggestion that for Rendle-Short the act of writing, as well as of reading, “changes things”. Today I thought I’d share two excerpts from her novel that confirm this, one from her fictional persona of Glory, and the other from her writing as herself.
Glory decides writing is a way of thinking: to think, to write, is dangerous. Transgressive. It is no small thing for Glory to tell this story in Glory’s way, to put into words things that until now have been left unspoken, to pin her heart to the page. Writing changes things, changes everything. It’s a risky business. (end Ch. 9)
And then, Francesca:
Looking at photographs is a bit like reading books; they invite acute feeling. You reveal yourself in the most intimate of moments. They elicit desire; illicit desire. Because in my family desire was illicit, like alcohol, like dancing. If you pay enough attention to small things, there is a chance for connection, a chance for transformation and transfiguration to occur. Writing grows skin, grows bones, a new heart. Just watch. D. H. Lawrence knew this. He attests that Lady Chatterley’s lover* was a beautiful book, that it was tender like a naked body. (end Ch. 25)
This is pretty raw stuff … and it tells us a bit about what sort of writer Rendle-Short is, about why she writes, about what literature means to her. It also, by-the-by, gives a good sense of her rhythmic, evocative style. I did like this book.
* Lady Chatterley’s lover was, of course, on her mother’s “burn a book a day” death list.