Reading reflections in the Bookinglass

An expat with a love of fiction

Posts Tagged ‘change

Offshore – feeling the change

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185px-OffshoreI have just eaten a paddy’s worth of rice cakes (Tesco’s own brand, salt and vinegar = non-calorific love) and I have trawled through my jewellery box for the perfect first-day-at-work accessories. So now I am a bit prepared for one of the biggest changes in my life, i.e. the uni to work transition, in the form of satisfying my fluttering stomach and bare skin. But no closer to be able to sleep.

I am taking this opportunity to write about the passage I was attempting to read whilst travelling to this job interview for DBM Group.

Offshore by Penelope Fitzgerald, feels like reading a play rather than a novel. The characters come up with some very surprising, jarring statements, which don’t so much comprise a conversation as give a feeling of a stilted juxtaposition of different lives in the same place. It’s like the characters aren’t really listening to each other, almost a stream of consciousness, but missing out the vital links between one thought and the next. I keep asking myself ‘why are they saying this? Do they mean to say this aloud?’

‘I can’t do things that women can’t do,’ she said. I can’t turn over The Times so that the pages lie flat, I can’t fold up a map in the right creases, I can’t draw corks, I can’t drive in nails straight, I can’t go into a bar and order a drink without wondering what everyone’s thinking about it, and I can’t strike matches towards myself..’ (p.12)

This is probably one the longest things that anyone has spoken yet in the book! It is so honest, with so much taste of truth despite myself I can’t help but laugh. Why we are introduced to the character, a mother living without her husband with two young girls on a houseboat on the Thames, in this way beats me. No one admits their faults in such a direct and eloquent way.

But I was meaning to write about a passage describing the moment between ebb and flow of the tidal river, when the boats start to begin to float again. For me starting work (now two weeks in and still haven’t finished this post!) is one of those life┬átidal changes, I am now going in a different direction than before but still feel run aground as I get used to the suddeness of it all.


Written by bookinglass

September 23, 2009 at 11:27 am