Monday, 12 November 2007

Ready for Reading Sweatman

These days I get to enjoy the pleasures of Margaret Sweatman's When Alice Lay Down with Peter. A version of its Chapter One appears in that Banting anthology I've been using. In that version, the story, called "1869," begins, "It is time for me to be born." The novel version has it this way: "These are my beginnings." Either way, we're getting into it, although a few of my students expressed reservations about Sweatman's writerly tactic of having of a 109-year-0ld woman narrate the moment of her conception. (Not to give away the moment, but think bolt of lightning in just the right place.) This happens in 1869. A man and woman have just bought "160 acres of bush by the Red." (The rest, as I'm going to go ahead and say, is truly history--with jolts of landscape, play, storytelling (the best kind of history, in my opinion) written in.) And I haven't yet mentioned the best part: the voice of the woman, who is not afraid to throw her language around.

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