Music, violence and what love means
Scottish novelist and poet Janice Galloway here continues her account of her childhood, this time focusing on secondary school, and the way she emerged from the silent, watchful child of her earlier book This is Not About Me
That I rated this a little lower than the first book probably reflects my own particular interest in the years of childhood, and the way children view the world. So, curiously, this book got to me a little less, the storms of adolescent sexuality seeming a little more prosaic and predictable. Perhaps it is, too, that the adolescent and the (ahem) mature woman or man are on the same side of the fence, living in the same hormonal country, with all the widespread physiology and psychology of sexuality. So, to pick on my own phrase, yes, to an adult, adolescence is more prosaic and predictable, its country more viscerally remembered, than that pre-pubescent world. And this is precisely why I am so enamoured of writer’s who help me re-member a way of feeling back into a world of ‘child’s eye view’
My reading of this Galloway book, is that it is a little more cerebral, a little more guarded, a little more reserved than her earlier book – the stoicism which was such a hallmark of the first, and in some ways remarkable in the child, somehow left me wanting to be let IN a little more, in this one. It is only towards the end, where suddenly Galloway plunges in to something more lyrical where I felt as completely grabbed as I did by that first volume.
This is a wonderful book, too, and certainly if it is the experience of adolescence, particularly adolescence in a certain time or place, that the reader most engages in, this will not disappoint.
I’m sure if I had only read this one, I would probably love as opposed to like it, but the more obvious heart consciousness of the first book and the fiercely intelligent little watcher, interested me more. To re-cap Wordsworth, with its textured, layered meaning
The child is father to the man
It is the kernel of who we become, and how early in life that ‘person’ expresses, which fascinates. The intelligent, cool , sometimes oversensitised watcher is a more widely found adult, and even a widely found adolescent, – that earlier book beautifully shows the seed of the adult in Galloway. And, yes, of course she is writing through the filter of the adult she now is, but the resonance of the child is crystal.
To return to this book – once again, i appreciate Galloway’s poetic sensibilities, whereby her words bear the weight of layered meaning – at least three interpretations within the title of this book! Clever, perceptive, witty Galloway!
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