Here is the opening paragraph in Liz Byrski’s first venture into writing fiction, in Gang of Four (2004).
There was a moment when she first woke, a moment free of any sense of the day ahead; a moment before she opened her eyes and when all she could feel was the warmth of the early sunshine falling on her face through the open curtains, and the soft heaviness of her body relaxed after sleep. A moment of innocence before reality interfered.
I’d already lost interest at ‘soft heaviness’. I didn’t need the naivety (‘innocence’, ‘reality’?) of the second sentence to confirm my disinterest not only in this character (I’m not a woman of a certain age) but also in this writing.
There’s a writers conference in Fremantle as we speak, and I took the opportunity to seek out writers with some connexion to Freo and make pages for them on my Fremantle Stuff site. I’ve also bought some of their work to sample if I didn’t have any already.
I had already read two of the three Alan Carter novels with Cato Kwong as the central character: the first (Prime Cut) set in Ravensthorpe/Hopetoun in southern WA, and the second (Getting Warmer) set in Fremantle. Cops ‘n’ crims.
Which is also the milieu of David Whish-Wilson, at least in Zero at the Bone, the only one of his books I’ve looked into so far. This one’s set in Perth and Fremantle in 1979.
Liz Byrski‘s first novel, Gang of Four, is the only one I’ve looked at. I’m not in the target audience of women of a certain age, so I found it of no interest. It’s not writerly.
I’ve read all of Tim Winton‘s novels. One which is clearly set in Fremantle is Eyrie (2013): a main character lives in Johnston Court, the absurdly tall block of flats in central Freo. Friends dislike his endings, including this one, but I didn’t have a problem with it: you just have to read closely.
If I find that I’ve a song in my head that I’d rather not be there, I replace it with one of two standby tunes, chosen because they are long and complicated and I still like them many years after making this decision. The first fallback is by Brahms: it’s the big theme from the fourth movement of the first symphony. The other is the main subject of the second movement of Tchaikovsky’s sixth symphony, the one wrongly called ‘Pathetique’. That tune is in 5/4, so it demands a little attention to get it going, which is one of the points in its favour.
Language usage is getting worse all around us, and especially in Facebook. But my real indicator is ABC radio. Yesterday a presenter (on Background Briefing) referred to an international incident which involved a ‘contingency’ of soldiers. At least that’s a new one.
I’ve been fascinated for some time now to have learnt that I can discover my current mood from the song going around in my head. It’s rather like interpreting a dream to see what it reveals about your take on your daily life. If I find I’m thinking Ticket to Ride, it means that I feel that I’m in control of the current situation. If it’s Rock of Ages, I’m feeling ‘God help me!’ (Not literally.) If Lullaby of Birdland, that’s my theme song for ‘Everything is normal’. If I’m lonely, it’s You’ve Got a Friend. There’s another Beatles song that I’ve forgotten atm. I’ll come back to this when I’m in that mood …
I listen to Radio National Breakfast every morning. It’s a smart program. Why does it play such dumb music?