Beyond the story

Janelle McCulloch wrote the book, Beyond the rock: the life of Joan Lindsay and the mystery of Picnic at Hanging Rock. While it is a biography about the life of Joan Lindsay, it is also an inquiry into the writing of Joan’s mysterious novel Picnic at hanging rock.

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I invited Janelle to be a guest speaker at our library and she gave an energetic and riveting talk about this topic to an audience of spellbound people. From the moment she entered the room, Janelle was talking, and she didn’t pause for an hour and probably could have continued. People were slow to leave, wanting more.

As a perennial mystery embedded in Australian culture, the mystery behind the story of Picnic at Hanging Rock, tantalizes us with the need to be solved. In Joan’s original unpublished forward to the novel:

            “…the story is entirely true.”

Janelle teased us who were in the room with the possibility of another book that does indeed reveal the truth. Her journalistic nose having uncovered parts of the story that, according to people who lived and live around Hanging Rock, “everyone knew”. We all responded with enthusiastic urging that she must indeed write it. How often does that happen to authors who are not J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, or George R. R. Martin?

The process of journalistic research is of great interest to me, as I love doing that myself. I know the addiction of a good detective hunt. Genealogists know this well. Janelle prompted us to get to work as:

            “Everyone has a story that needs to be told.

So feeling enthused and having procrastinated long enough about getting my own family story curated, I started. I had already created a storyboard of sorts using PowerPoint. So I purchased a large sketchbook and a scrapbooking kit. I set up a space where I have all the photos nearby in boxes and photo albums and on file.

It is apparent from the moment I begin where the gaps are, so many photos missing. Do they even exist? Does someone have the ones I need? I phoned my husbands aunt not remembering how old she must be. We had a nice conversation and she agreed to look to see what she had. Yesterday I received an envelope with some gorgeous old photos of my mother-in-law and her sister, and their mother, and my husband’s parents. And there was an image of my husband’s late eldest brother as a 3 year old. His family didn’t have photos of themselves or their children; unlike my own father who was a bit of a photography geek.

Isabel_and_Val

As thrilled, as I am to receive these photos, there are still gaps. I have not found a photo of my husband’s maternal grandfather – Arthur William Duncalfe. Using the library member’s subscription to Ancestry, I have found the certificates online that give the details of his birth and death, but no photos. I have even located a passport photo of his father Arthur Gregory Duncalfe as he emigrated from the USA to Australia.

So as I restock the glue sticks and refill the printer ink, the hunt continues.

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Stories with music

What is it about stories that have music woven into the tale? We can’t actually hear or feel the music, but if we know the pieces mentioned this evokes a mood in harmony with the actual tune.

I hosted another Melbourne Writers Festival at my library and the author was Zoe Morrison who has written one novel Music and Freedom. I have read about a third of the book but had to return the library copy, as the reservation list is long. I was enjoying the tale, which has music at its heart; the main character is a concert pianist.

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Lee Kofman and Zoe Morrison at Frankston Library 2017

Listening to Zoe in conversation with a fellow author Lee Kofman I am keen to get hold of another copy and finish reading this book. Zoe gave further depth and context to the tale whetting the appetite of the people in the audience.

I have enjoyed other novels that contain music as a central theme: An equal music by Vikram Seth is one that comes to mind. There is another that I loved but the title and author elude me at the moment. I will do a search and see if I can locate it.

#glamblogweekly

P.S. So I searched and located the book Maestro by Peter Goldsworthy. I have opened the cover and fallen into the magical tale once again.