Sunday, 7 February 2010

Story telling and Siri Hustvedt

On Sundays we have time to read the Saturday newspapers - they don't actually get delivered to Ferney until Sunday anyway. I've been reading a good interview with one of my favourite authors, Siri Hustvedt, all about her new book The Shaking Woman. There's a small insert in the interview entitled "Hustvedt on Husvedt" which I particularly appreciated:

Every story we tell about ourselves can only be told in the past tense. It winds backwards from where we now stand, no longer the actors in the story but its spectators who have chose to speak. The trail behind us is somtimes marked by stones like the ones Hansel first left behind him. Other times, the path is gone, because the birds flew down and ate up all the crumbs at sunrise.
The story flies over the blanks filling them in with the hypotaxis of an"and" or an "and then". I've done it on these pages to stay on a path I know is interrupted by shallow pits and several deep holes. Writing is a way to trace my hunger, and hunger is nothing if not a void.
This quote comes from Hustvedt's novel "What I Loved" which is one of the 10 books I would take to a desert island (even though the programme only allows you one!). Reading this and what she wrote about it I almost felt encouraged to imagine a novel myself ... not sure that I would want to read my own fiction though! This is what she wrote:
I chose this passage from late in my novel What I loved because it articulates the complexity of storytelling, something I have addressed repeatedly in all my writing, both fiction and non-ficiton. Narrative is a necessary organising force in our lives, a way of organising the disparate and fragmentary sensory and cognitive material that bombards us allthe time from outside and inside out bodies. But every story has gaps that can never be filled, and every story is told from a particular perspective. Even the omniscient narrator is not God. Leo, my narrator in the novel, is deeply aware of the partial character of all stories, as am I