Monday, 25 November 2013

Patrick White

In Patrick White's book of short stories, The Burnt Ones, is a story involving a funeral (amongst other things) called "Down at the Dump". White has the deceased, Daise Morrow, address the mourners from the grave—they can't hear her, of course—with the following words

Listen, all of you, I’m not leaving, except those who want to be left, and even those aren’t so sure – they might be parting with a bit of themselves. Listen to me, all you successful no-hopers, all you who wake in the night, jittery because something may be escaping you, or terrified to think there may never have been anything to find. Come to me, you sour women, public servants, anxious children, and old scabby, desperate men ...

…Truly, we needn’t experience tortures, unless we build chambers in our minds to house instruments of hatred in. Don’t you know, my darling creatures, that death isn’t death, unless it’s the death of love? Love should be the greatest explosion it is reasonable to expect. Which sends us whirling, spinning, creating millions of other worlds. Never destroying.

*     *     *     *     *

Patrick White is currently my favourite writer, and I've been re-visiting him extensively. He is always able to surprise with wonderful metaphors.

Here's a couple from "Down at the Dump":

the roll of mouldy feltex trying to fur his nostrils up.

Flies clustered in irregular jet embroideries on the backs of best suits.

And as for being quintessentially Australian, only White could have included the last clause in this sentence (or perhaps Barry Humphries)

'I’ll bring you a cuppa, and slice of that pound cake, it’s still eatable I think.'
From the story "Clay" in The Burnt Ones.

I assume people still read Patrick White.  I can lend you some ebooks, if you like.

1 comment:

  1. You've sold me with those quotes, can't believe I haven't read him yet. Ps I don't want to be left, so I'm pleased with those words.