Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Always smelling of blood

The McKays came in most weekends, or that's how it seemed anyhow, and always smelling of blood. Everyone knew they killed their animals. Uncle Neil, but the
boys too, he taught them how to do it, then they'd all walk in through Gran's kitchen door Saturday morning, smiling the big white smiles like they had knives in them and carrying in their arms their parcels of meat.

"A beast...." That's what Uncle Neil called it, the thing that they were bringing in. Not cow, or sheep, or deer, only, "I've got a beast for you here..." like it had never been alive on the farm, a creature with eyelashes and breath, but was altogether different and now it was dead.


That was Davey. He was the eldest, and kind of like a man. He never used to say "Hello". just "Hey" like that, while he chewed gum. "Pull in, will you, so I can get past..."

Extract from 44 THINGS by Kirsty Gunn [Atlantic] 25. Now I can see how it was, I think.

Come and hear Kirsty Gunn read from this astonishing story and other work including her work-in-progress which has Katherine Mansfield as its subject. She is speaking as part of the Writers Read series, THURSDAY AUGUST 6, 6 PM, Massey University Wellington campus, Buckle Street Entrance [follow the signs to the Theatrette] or FRIDAY AUGUST 7, 7 PM, Palmerston North City Library.

I'm chairing both events and looking forward to discussing Kirsty's work and her search for a new form that eshews the 'narrative arc'. She spoke on Monday at Te Papa and captivated the audience with the insights into her writing life.
Kirsty is pictured above at Randell Cottage Thorndon where she is the writer in residence.

Photo Credit: Mary McCallum

3 comments: said...

Yes, if you did not get to the IML event, then you surely must go to one or other of these events which Mary is chairing - Kirsty is utterly "the writer" and her passion and confidence in her own unique voice as a writer is inspirational. Her sense of place, from which she starts as a writer, is riveting and her conviction and courage eschewing the narrative arc, is emboldening to anyone who wants to write. She's enchanting and dark, all at once... fearless I think but warm as well... a fascinating combination.

Rachel Fenton said...

Do you ever get star struck by writers?

Mary McCallum said...

Thanks for that Maggie - great description of Kirsty: enchanting and dark and fearless and warm!
And Rachel, yes, star struck .... easily .... Kirsty is a real star, too, as a writer and performer, but I have known her such a long time and she is so warm and generous at these writer events that it feels like we're sitting around the fire at home having a chat. Now that is a real skill, and not all writers are capable of doing that. Both events I was involved with last week were quite different 'chats' and they went very well.