Oyster, by Janet Turner Hospital. Read it at your peril

OysterOyster by Janette Turner Hospital
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There were times when I thought, “I can’t continue”. Oyster is best taken in small doses. Janet Turner Hospital is a master of her craft. She draws you in and shakes you up. The horror of some scenes – and they are ‘scenes’ – hurt me physically.
Oyster is set in outback Queensland, in the throes of drought. Outer Maroo, an off the map settlement in an off the map location, and the strangest population of any settlement anywhere.
If I put on my academic’s hat, I’d say this was postmodernism at it’s peak, but that’s a personal opinion.
Strangely, since I read the book, I keep coming across references to Quilpie (which does exist) and other ‘real’ places in Outback Queensland that are mentioned in the book.
If you’re up for the challenge, I encourage you to read this book!

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Oyster, by Janet Turner Hospital. Read it at your peril

The Memory Trope

To continue with the trope of memory, memories and remembering, I find this in David Mitchell’s The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet – a novel I’ve just finished reading and am rereading right away. The slave, Weh, is considering what he ‘owns’ – what he is allowed to own. He knows he is not allowed to own goods or money; indeed, “… a slave cannot even say, ‘These are my fingers,’ or ‘This is my skin.’ We do not own our bodies. We do not own our families”. He ponders the question of whether he owns his own name – not his slave-names – but his true name, the one he tells nobody, “so nobody can steal my name.” Weh muses: Do I own my memories? And comes to the conclusion that, like his true name, his memories are things he owns.


I can’t begin to tell you how much I appreciated this book. It isn’t an easy read, far from it, but so worthwhile. If you do read it, The Bone Clocks is in the same series and also a brilliant book.

So, remembering boarding school, the awful, all-consuming homesickness. Many children at boarding school suffer terribly from homesickness and I was one of them.

It’s the terror you see, the terror of feeling home is going to forget me. Or me forget home.

It is the ‘not-belonging’, the ‘not understanding’. I recollect discovering that the younger boarders (like me) were only to use the washbasins on the left side of the bathroom. An unwritten rule that nobody bothers to tell you until you make the mistake of using one on the ‘big-girls’ side! So insignificant now, but so horrible then.

Then I discovered that if my table manners were bad enough I was made to take my meal to the Boarders Library and eat it there. Oh joy! I’m still not sorry I flicked jelly at the Head Mistress. That, or any of the other naughtiness I thought up to get out of the dining room and into the library!

The Memory Trope

This and That

I can understand people being concerned with the physical ailments connected to ageing but for me it is the mental deterioration that matters.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern is an intriguing book. Interesting that she started writing it through NaNoWriMo some years ago. I have two unfinished novels started during NaNoWriMo that hang over me – as does the patchwork quilt I started working on in 1964 and never finished. I will one day if I live long enough. Maybe.

Given the introductory paragraph of this blog, you can understand why Neuroplasticity features in my reading at present. Recently, I finished Barbara Arrowsmith-Young’s book, The Woman Who Changed Her Brain. and, apart from her … ‘earnest’ literary manner, the book held my attention throughout. I would have liked her to give more examples of her techniques but I imagine she holds those close to her chest – that being her living. If the training to teach in her schools wasn’t held in Canada I would be tempted to enrol. I was lead to her book through Norman Doidge’s book, The Brain that Changes Itself. I am still working through that.

Learning Sanskrit chants seems like a good way to keep the brain from deteriorating. I find Sanskrit difficult although the Ganesh chant is easy to remember and one that I use often in meditation. My friend and Yoga Teacher, Rakini, taught me the chant when I went to Bali with her last year.

Yoga Philosophy is profound. Working toward understanding, even on a basic level, takes immense concentration. Swami Venkatesananda’s books are one of my entry points, together with the work of Georg Feuerstein. Sometimes I despair at ever gaining any sort of grip on the philosophy until I realise that “grip” isn’t what it is about! Then, I forget.

Asana helps both focus and concentration. I have found that some of the movements I’m learning at the gym in Pump are also helpful. The left brain/right brain work can only be good for the neural pathways.  Learning to juggle is proving difficult! My hand/eye coordination is not good. I close my eyes and remind myself, “Use the Force, Luke!”

Todd Sampson, in his TV series Redesign My Brain features the importance of creativity in improving the brain. The imagination and intricacy of plot in Erin Morgenstern’s book fires up my creativity. The threads of the story she winds and weaves so skilfully remind me of a perfect tapestry; it is not only the front of the tapestry that is in view, the reverse is equally as accessible and those are my foci.

Another novel that draws me in and leads me down pathways, through labyrinthine passages and imaginative situations (albeit far more violent and explicit than Morgenstern’s) is Kraken by China Miéville.

So many books to read.

This and That

There is a crack in everything, that’s where the light comes in

Sometimes this is a serendipitous way to approach the day – looking at the light through a forest giant. In this case, a Tingle tree. Leonard Cohen sings in Anthem, there is a crack in everything, that’s where the light comes in …

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.
That’s how the light gets in.
That’s how the light gets in.

The secret is to move through and into the light! The Little Black Dog is checking out where the light is coming through, she knows more than me, that’s for sure.

Many bloggers (should that be Bloggers?) are so good at blogging regularly. I follow a fair few and am often impressed at the amount of blogging that happens, the amazing issues that are discussed and the arguments that are put forward. Practice seems to be the name of the game. I guess that in my life I ‘practice’ yoga and I ‘practice’ gardening and a few other inconsequential things that make me happy. Having just read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell I’m thinking about his ‘10,000 hours of practice’ theory. If that is accurate, then I have a long way to go to become a talented blogger! Of course, I am a talented Leonard Cohen fan!!

Anyway, the next book on my bedside table is Holy Cow by Sarah MacDonald – the copy I’ve got, the cover portrait hasn’t got sunnies but it is the same book. My daughter lent it to me. One thing about being retired is that you have heaps of time to read books that are not literary tomes. I had enough of that in the 7 years it took me to complete my PhD. It is difficult to break the habit of reading so critically that you miss the enjoyment of the story.

I do need to figure out how to make these darn pictures obey me. I sort of wanted the books to be next to each other but it isn’t happening. Oh well, more practice – I suppose about another 9,500 hours going by Gladwell’s theory!

All this writing and I’ve not really said anything of interest. To put it crudely, blogging really is a mind wank.

There is a crack in everything, that’s where the light comes in