Saturday, January 8, 2011

A book worth talking about... Camping on the Faultline

Camping on the Faultline, a memoir by Marilyn Duckworth, is worth talking about primarily because of its resemblance to the celebrity gossip magazines we wouldn't be seen reading in public. I thought I might get an insight into the writing life of a well known and much lauded NZ author. Well, I suppose I did, of sorts.

A restless spirit, Duckworth claims she writes her best when she's away from home. That said, flitting between two countries, forty-nine houses, twelve schools, four husbands and many lovers, clearly contributed to her considerable writing output. This book, however, let me down. All I learnt was who, of the NZ literati, was in bed with whom throughout the flirtatious 50s, through the sexy 60s to the naughty 90s. They were all at it and Ms Duckworth holds nothing back.  They're all in there. All the writers we think of as being the core of the NZ literary scene of that period. I'm not going to drop names, but, Maurice Shadbolt is in there...  and Fleur Adcock running off to wed Barry Crump? Of course most of this was pre The Pill days and so inevitably multiple children ensued from the couplings of various combinations of spouses, lovers, mistresses and what have you. Too old to be considered hippies, they'd missed Bohemia by miles. So what drove them to leap from bed to bed, relationship to relationship? The word 'creativity' is tossed around and although there are references to several of Duckworth's books, there's no real insight into the creative process and nothing that significantly links the events of her hectic love life to that of her writing life. To be honest, I felt exhausted for her and not at all surprised that she needed to upsticks and leave, yet again, in order to concentrate on writing. Haven't we all felt that urge? However, after husband number four, I lost interest in these people. Ms Duckworth doesn't regret any of it, she says. And clearly, it worked for her.

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