Friday, June 26, 2009

Beneath the Surface

"At one stage I began to relate water to the process of memory."

~ Fiona Kidman

I am currently reading Fiona Kidman's new volume of memoir Beside the Dark Pool. It's such a powerful reading experience, I am being taken back through my own life along with Fiona.

As with all good memoir, the reader is not permitted to remain objective. I find my own memories stirring in the depths as Fiona relives her life, especially through the stormy and "liberating" seventies and eighties. Her courage encourages me to reach back and remember; and as I have lived through so many of the "interesting times" she has lived through, it's been a rich time casting the mind back.

Moments of decision. Stranding on a lonely shore and experiencing the vastness of opportunity, the smallness of the safe places. Choosing a heroine, a model, or making your own important contribution - never mind the opposition - and coping with the fallout later. The abandonment and exhilaration of standing on the front lines of protest. Love. Friendship. Grief. And lines of poetry always to hand.

What a great guide she is, with her frankness and lucidity and her self-control as she reveals with great clarity the feminist revolution as it was acted out within the family circle, the Springbok Tour, Muldoonism, Labour activism, NZ literary politics and the at times vicious feuding, etc.

She deserves special congratulation for the light she shines on the two faces of one particularly feared old man of letters. I am among the many who have personally witnessed his smiling duplicity while blood dripped from the rhetorical knife hidden up his sleeve, and I whooped with joy when I saw how honest Fiona had been. O brave and admirable stateswoman!

This is the story of a NZ woman who has been an important literary figure; we owe her much appreciation for her past deeds, and her generosity continues with this latest of her works.

This book is beautifully written. An indispensable piece of literary and social history as well as a moving instalment of autobiography. Highly recommended.

There is a useful and informative post about it on Mary McCallum's blog "O Audacious Book"

Here is Graham Beattie's review on his Bookman Blog.

And there's a NZ Herald review.

There's a good review in this week's Listener too, but it won't be online until the 11th of July.


Mary McCallum said...

Oh I just found this - lovely post - Fiona K saw the comment you made on my blog re. her memoir and was delighted.

The Paradoxical Cat said...

Thanks Mary. Since then I've had a delightful email conversation with Fiona :-)

I loved your speech.

P x