Posted by: Lisa Hill | October 21, 2020

Author Event: Writers on Writers: Josephine Rowe on Beverley Farmer, in conversation with Anna MacDonald

Black Inc’s series Writers on Writers has so far featured eight authors, including Patrick White, David Malouf and Shirley Hazzard, but this author talk with Josephine Rowe about the most recent, On Beverley Farmer, is the first one I’ve been able to attend.  Beverley Farmer is the author of A Body of Water, about to be re-released by Giramondo, and This Water: Five Tales, by Beverley Farmer.

Josephine Rowe’s name will be familiar to many; I’ve reviewed two of her books here, and she also has a new collection of short stories called Here Until August.  I’ve also reviewed Anna MacDonald’s new book A Jealous Tide.  

This is the blurb for On Beverley Farmer:

‘Across Farmer’s works there has always been an attraction to those beings who occupy two worlds…Once one has lived elsewhere, lived differently, it doesn’t matter whether she stays to forge a new life or turns back towards the old, or moves on once again; there will always be the shadow, the after-image, of the life not lived.’
Beverley Farmer’s writing reflects on restlessness, desire and homecoming. In this brilliantly acute essay, fellow novelist and short-story writer Josephine Rowe finds a kindred spirit and argues for a celebration and reclamation of this unique Australian author.

Anna read an excerpt from A Body of Water, which consists of fragmentary notebook observations from a melancholy period of Farmer’s fallow period when she hadn’t had anything published for a couple of years.  It was a pleasure to revisit this text, because I know the area she was writing about and once again I could picture the landscape she was portraying: coastal places at Barwon Heads, Queenscliff, and the Great Ocean Road.  Place is such an important element in Farmer’s work. 

Josephine read an excerpt about A Body of Water from On Beverley Farmer, which drew attention to patterns in characterisation and themes, and all kinds of other aspects of Farmer’s writing.  But there was also discussion about a book of essays, The Bone House (2005) which I haven’t yet read. I don’t read a lot of essays, but I suspect that I would enjoy those ones. 

On Beverley Farmer is obviously a book to add to my collection!  

Links are to Readings Bookstore which hosted the event: many thanks to Christine Gordon! 


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