Wednesday, May 21, 2008

On reading The Spare Room

There's a post about Helen Garner's The Spare Room over here. It hardly scratches the surface, but I hope to write at least one more when I've given it some more thought.

UPDATE: As you were. Yes, I'm sufficiently rattled by the viciously insulting (and, naturally, anonymous) comment that just turned up over there to take that post down. It was meant to be a particular kind of personal post about the experience of reading, of a kind that only a blog will let one write. But if that's the effect it has on a particular kind of troll then I would rather it wasn't there at all. I might try for a more orthodox post on the Garner book later.

I have a very good idea of who it was and why he did it. In fact, I am almost sure. But that doesn't actually help very much.


Ampersand Duck said...

Well, I read it on my feedreader before I foolishly went on to a different blog and now I've lost it forever. This makes me very sad because I was thoroughly enjoying it and gagging for part two and now I might not even get to re-read part one.

yah-boo-sucks to that naughty commenter.

Miscellaneous-Mum said...

I'm very sorry that happened.

lisette said...

bum! i really wanted to know what you thought of it. i couldn't stop reading it - i even sat in the station car park reading compulsively until minutes before the creche was due to shut.... one of my friends read it thinking it was a straight memoir and didn't believe me when i said it was a novel

Pavlov's Cat said...

I'm going to post about it there again, but in a different way with all the personal stuff taken out. I am basically too thin-skinned to be a blogger, I think: anonymous personal insults from total strangers blindside me every time. The young women (and men too, actually) of the blogosphere whom I admire would tell me to harden the f*ck up, but 1960s femininity-training dies hard, young Grasshoppers.

TimT said...

It was a good review (I read it at work), the sort of review that I actually prefer reading. I like reviews not because they give me a second hand evaluation of a novel but because they (sometimes, like this one) have interesting things to say in response to the novel - so you get to enter as a reader into an interesting kind of three-way dialogue, if that makes sense.

Anyway. Poo to snarky anonymous commenters. They're everything the blog world doesn't need!

Another Outspoken Female said...

Bugger, missed it. Have just finished reading the book and would have loved to read your experience of it. How annoying a silly little idiot who isn't proud enough of their words to leave their name has made you alter your blogging activities. Don't give in. Just delete the twat!

Su said...

I'm glad I caught it before you took it down, PC. Reading people's personal responses to experience is what blogs are all about aren't they? It is why I love them, anyway.

Georg said...

I caught it in my RSS reader and am so glad that I did. I do hope you can reinstate it somewhere. In speaking to people about this book it has been evident that the experience of reading has been inseparable from the book itself. I read it in one evening which is a minor miracle considering how broken my reading time usually is. In relating the reading experience the conversations I have had have been about'personal' reactions to the book, not so much 'critical' or 'objective', for want of better words. Garner just has that effect on you and the way in which she does ask a whole lot of questions about what you have called the 'self-as-writer' also push back on the reader and where they sit in relation to the book, how they feel. Your post made complete sense in light of this. It seemed to me to reflect the experiences of a number of people who have read the book, especially those who are long-time Garner readers.

As I said, I do hope the post is not lost forever.

And I am sick of people deciding what IS and IS NOT a blog post. I have allowed such idiots to curtail my blogging as I have become hesitant to open myself up to attack. Constructive argument I can handle, childish attacks and baiting I can not. Those who seek to define and subsequently own 'blogging' are destined to kill it. But I suppose that wouldn't bother them.

lucy tartan said...

I read it on the feedreader too, and if that anon commenter is hanging about he should know he's a very big loser.

I haven't read the book but I was intrigued by the post's hints about something perhaps new and possibly missed by the first round of reviewers (working under pressure) in the way the narrative negotiates and uses readerly assumptions about narrators and implied authors. Would like to know more about this.

I guess i should read the book? (It is payday today after all...)

Anonymous said...

Similarly I read the post on my Bloglines account, but it's gone now as well.

Is there any way you can restrict this troll's IP address or email address? I have some 1500 IP addresses banned on my weblog - though most of these are spam rather than just plain idiots.

Perry Middlemiss

Pavlov's Cat said...

Thanks v much for this feedback, all. Georg, that is exactly and precisely what I was trying to do, and the fact that you got it in one makes me feel much better about it. I've kept all the stuff in the post that might be generally useful or interesting and am reworking it into something more orthodox. Laura, thanks -- will enlarge on the narrator question. (If I can work it out properly myself, that is.)

Perry, I am a technomoron but I don't think Blogger allows that kind of restriction, and I'm reluctant to make people register if they want to comment (the only way to block anonymous comments, and there is about an 85% matchup between 'anonymous' and 'malicious') because I love the free flow of bloggy conversation too much.

The said...

More me focussed crap.

When are you and your mates going to wake up? You know how many people were made homeless in China last week? 5 million.

And you think it important and interesting to talk about the equivalent of the weight of your toenail clippings.

It is not only disgusting. It is a species of species treachery.

Pavlov's Cat said...

Ah, there he is. Be vewy vewy quiet.

Where is David Attenborough when you need him?

Anonymous said...

What is this guy on? I assume it's a guy 'cos I can't imagine a woman saying these things.

Anyway it is possible to walk and chew gum at the same time (or was that quote "walk and fart", I can never remember). So it is possible to care about what happens in the world without being totally absorbed by it.

He sounds like he's got balance problems.

Perry Middlemiss

PS The reason why I sign in as anonymous is because Blogger has stuffed up my account. Actually, I think I messed it up but...

By the way, how did the high school reunion go? Can't think of anything worse. I'd be in the corner talking with the other geeks.

j-ster said...

Im always curious about trolls... How wonderfully accurate the name is! Why do some people only have misery to share, and try to inspire misery in others?

Ive been enjoying your writing for a while now, Im sorry i missed the original post, but im very curious about the book now... I saw it in the bookshop just recently and now i might have to go buy it!

Zoe said...

Nice weather we're having.

lucy tartan said...

Yes isn't it. I see the price of eggs has gone up again.

Ocky said...

"Troll is he that setteth naught by no man, nor no man by him. This is he that would bear rule in a place and hath no authority nor thanks, and at last is thrust out of the door like a knave."
(Kinney, Arthur F., ed. "Rogues, Vagabonds, and Sturdy Beggars")

Or: How many narcissists does it take to change a light bulb?
(a) Just one, but he has to wait for the whole world to revolve around him.
(b) None at all. He hires minions for work that's beneath him.

Write whatever you want, Pav. That's why we tune in.

But right now, I'm off to LOLcats.

Kirsten said...

I too am sorry to have missed your post. I haven't read it yet, just the reviews (maybe in a few weeks when my masters project is (hopefully) handed in. But the comments here make your post sound interesting enough to make me want to read the book...
(now back to my essay)

Susan Johnson said...

Dear the,
Yes, indeed, life is cruel, brutish and short. You are not the first person, or the only one, to notice that.
There is nothing any of us can do for those poor human millions lost to earthquakes, tsunamis, wars, accidents, or to plain old ordinary death.
What we can do, however, is mourn them, and give aid to their survivors (monetary or spiritual or physical).
What we can do is what humans have been doing as a species for as long as we have been a species, that is, comfort each other by stories, by songs, by everything we tell each other.
That's who we are, mate.
I have never met Kerryn Goldsworthy so she is no personal mate of mine.
But she is a member of my species, like you are, and I am sure that she likes to tell stories, too, and to hear them, as I am sure those school children who lost parents in the earthquake will want to tell stories about their lost parents for many years to come.
That's human memory for you.
It's what stories do for us, songs, it's what art does for us. It's what we do for each other, and, sorry, but the fact that my much loved 94 year old grandmother is dying will mean nothing to you, but it means everything to me.
Because you see 'me focussed crap', every little insignificant human drama, is what makes up the human whole.
Yours sincerely,
Susan Johnson

Kathleen said...

People like "the" sometimes turn up in humanities-based tutorials and it's always tempting to ask them why they're there.

What should we expect from a literary critic and book reviewer but...a review of a book she's read? And why, given her academic record, shouldn't we expect her to have such an excited and personal response to the new and much-awaited novel of an author on whom she's an expert? And why go to a blog called Australian Lit. Diary for anything other than...ozlit?

I don't geddit.