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"Letter to George Clooney" - new book

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"Letter to George Clooney" - new book

Post by Katiedot on Sat Sep 07 2013, 11:19

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Comedy meets tragedy

September 7, 2013

LETTER TO GEORGE CLOONEY.

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By Debra Adelaide. Picador. 295pp. $24.99.

To begin with a confession: I read the last story in this collection of 13 first, which may or may not be proper but it is after all (literally) the title story and who could resist the title, Letter to George Clooney?

This is a story with profound resonances for contemporary Australia, the letter-writer who is the story's narrator being a mixed-race refugee living in rural Victoria. The letter documents her truly appalling experiences, including rape and infibulation, in Darfur, recollected in anything but tranquillity.

Why George Clooney?

The letter-writer has read that ''every woman in the world wants George Clooney to father her child''. That would certainly be preferable to having had her child fathered by rapists, though she loves that daughter this side of idolatory. Again, George Clooney because the letter-writer carries with her a copy of Time magazine featuring the film star and humanitarian on its cover, a photograph that causes even further abuse from her violators. Plangently if ironically, this letter from a violated woman is a letter of comfort to George Clooney: ''I want you to know that your involvement in my country was not the great failure that you think and that you were right to have been there.''

Debra Adelaide has always been a comic and ironic novelist, while at the same time serious and deeply moving, nowhere more than in her celebrated The Household Guide to Dying (2008). There is much irony, much dry comedy in the volume, much also that is deeply moving. There are stories about (adult) children and their delicate relations with their parents, a story about the problems faced by a social worker (''What sort of person does this job?''), one about the comic peregrinations involved in finding the Australian Taxation Office, a chain-letter story, a couple of stories about ''Conferenceville'', as Frank Moorhouse memorably dubbed that curious convocation of the querulous, and one that brings an almost Michael Wildingish comic brio to the creative writing workshop.

The first story, The Sleepers in that Quiet Earth (the allusion to Bronte's Wuthering Heights is dilated upon) is a triumph, and bears comparison with Katherine Mansfield. Like The Household Guide to Dying, this story is deftly and convincingly structured, alternating as it does between its subject character and her character in a fiction that she is developing. It is a story about the uncertainties of writing a story.

Those enrolled in that curious academic discipline ''creative writing'' might perhaps take heart from it, though surely not from Glory in the Flower, in which a distinguished English poet suffers through the vicissitudes of a writing workshop somewhere out in the scrub of the Great South Land, an experience redeemed for him by the discovery of a ''host of golden daffodils'' while on an evening walk. ''Ah Wordsworth! Thou art mighty yet.''

Speak of experience recollected in tranquillity: all would seem to be well when, after the rigours and boredom and disappointments of the creative writing workshop, after the spartan accommodation and absence of liquor, his hosts upgrade his home flight to England to business class! ''He could stretch out as far as he liked. He could sleep.''

In a sort-of technological updating of the epistolary form, in the second story in her collection, If You See Something, Say Something, Adelaide mines that wonderful vein for comedy, the ''personals'' columns of the London Review of Books. For example: ''Man, 45, seeks female, preferably under 40, for companionship. Dinners, movies, concerts, drives in the country. OK, I want sex as well.''

LRB personals are rarely that direct, or honest. Does he, as Hamlet has it, mean ''country matters''? Such entries provoke this story's conclusion. ''Semiotician (F, 39) seeks meaning of life. Or of anything.''

Amen to that.

Katiedot
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Re: "Letter to George Clooney" - new book

Post by Mazy on Sun Sep 08 2013, 03:35

Katie thanks so much for this article. This poor woman what she must have endured at the hands of these animals. I remember an article where George said that he failed, he's still fighting so he hasn't failed.

God bless her no one will ever understand how; what she went through, has altered her life. Writing about these things is encouraged to help the person get it out and maybe learn to live with it's constant presence.

Mazy
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Re: "Letter to George Clooney" - new book

Post by it's me on Sun Sep 08 2013, 09:57

So brave
I can't even imagine Neutral 

it's me
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Re: "Letter to George Clooney" - new book

Post by Nicky80 on Sun Sep 08 2013, 13:18

I still don't understand why it says "Letter to George CLooney". She is telling her story so why mention George. I know he does humanitarian work but..... I know it got explained in the artical but I still didn't really get it. scratch

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Re: "Letter to George Clooney" - new book

Post by Katiedot on Mon Sep 09 2013, 03:50

i guess because firstly it will get more press coverage, and secondly she wanted to let him know that he hadn't failed.

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Re: "Letter to George Clooney" - new book

Post by Mazy on Mon Sep 09 2013, 04:29

Katiedot wrote:i guess because firstly it will get more press coverage, and secondly she wanted to let him know that he hadn't failed.
Yes I think that you are right.

Mazy
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Re: "Letter to George Clooney" - new book

Post by What Would He Say on Mon Sep 09 2013, 05:45




He has created a template for others to follow, putting experience to good use....aside from the enormous good in itself.

How can he even imagine that this is in any shape or a form a failure.

What Would He Say
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Re: "Letter to George Clooney" - new book

Post by Nicky80 on Mon Sep 09 2013, 10:09

Katiedot wrote:i guess because firstly it will get more press coverage, and secondly she wanted to let him know that he hadn't failed.
Thanks,

Nicky80
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Re: "Letter to George Clooney" - new book

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