Philobiblon: Australian women writers

Friday, December 31, 2004

Australian women writers

This has been the topic of discussion on my email book group, and I've had to shame-facedly confess that I've hardly read any. (I'm talking about fiction here.)

The only one who immediately sprang to mind is LE Usher, who is an expatriate, so not sure if that counts. The central character of her "Miss" is a single female bookseller, just the sort you want on your street corner.

She says:

"I enjoy living over the shop, it soothes me to know that these books are underneath me. For they are mine. ... I have chosen them, taken them into my hands, raked my eye over their every detail, opened them and smelt their secret smell, and chosen then to sit on my boookshelves....

On a number of occasions I have refused a sale simply because I didn't like someone's face or their hands. I have taken my book back from them, apologetically stating that actually this particular book is not for sale.

Understandably some of them argue - bemused tones turning to irritation and often belligerence. Most often they never return, which relives me of the task of saying no a second time."

But then again, she might not be a great neighbour, since she becomes obsessed with female criminals of the past.

"I began to ask myself the question why, if women of such audacious criminal deeds had existed for centuries, did we find contemporary women murderers such a shockinh anomoly? ... there appeared to me to be a strong historical precedent for the current crop of women who killed."

And yes, she is tempted ...

(The book boasts a rather good little biography of women criminals - original sources.)


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