27 May BOOK CLUB: A LITTLE LIFE
A moment of my life that I have to share…
I am revelling in an incredibly special moment I had last week when I met Hanya Yanagihara, writer of my favourite book A Little Life. She also, beyond kindly, gifted me with this tote bag – and let me proudly say I am the only little life in Australia to have one!
There are very rare novels in life that you read, or rather experience, where the story governs your brain for days – in my case 6 months – after you put the book down.
At the closing address for the Sydney Writer’s Festival last weekend, Hanya spoke about the conversations between words. A room full of publishing industry folks, intellects and literary sponges that erupted into a standing ovation following her words.
“When we say that a work of fiction is infected with gratuitous brutality, what are we really saying?” asks Yanagihara.
“All brutality is gratuitous. There is no reason for it. But it is part of being human, and therefore it is the stuff of literature. For literature to ignore this, to try to conceal or avoid it, is an act of nothing less than artistic irresponsibility, a covering of the eyes and a silencing of the tongue because of some specious idea that there are certain territories into which fiction is not supposed to wander.
“But it is not only the fiction writer’s right, but the fiction writer’s duty, to not just wander, but to march into those territories, to look at the putrefying ugliness of what humans can be – and then to report back. It is the least she can do.
“Not because her art permits her to – but because her own humanity compels her to. Can’t art – and shouldn’t art – encourage us to imagine the human condition, even at, especially at, its cruellest and smallest?”
Her words stuck to the sides of my head like the Rotor at Luna Park and I have been sharing them with everybody who will listen, or pretend to. The podcast will be live from Sydney Writer’s Festival on iTunes in a few weeks to come but in the meantime, get this book and experience a life like no other.
Many thanks to Linda Morris for quoting Hanya Yanagihara for me, and many thanks to you for reading something that personally gave me so much joy, hope, heartbreak and love.
Until next time, live life, experience art, and test your boundaries.