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I have just finished reading a beautifully written book called Cleanskin by Gay Lynch.

2016-03-18 11.14.09

This is Gay’s first novel, published by Wakefield Press, and I remember Gay reading an extract from it at a Lee Marvin, which was so captivating it enticed me to buy it.

The protagonist is Madeleine who, along with four other women, attends a playgroup run by one of them where they offload their lives to one another, until one of them starts an illicit affair after which everything unravels.

The story is based in Port Lincoln, and I think what I particularly loved was the sea as a point of reference throughout and indeed in Madeleine’s life, a respite that keeps pulling and calling. In the extract below, Madeleine is driving home from the airport having collected her parents for a short stay, one she has not been looking forward to:

“As she swept around the last curves, the water swathed the coastline like grey silk moving over an undulating body. Sun burst between the clouds, spilling silver on the inky shales and the soft grey pebbles in tiny coves. Dark cloud shadows chased across the shallows. Bobbing in a red dingy, a rounded back shrugged and bent over a fishing chore.”

The picture this paints is a rich and vivid one, but I think what makes it so is the almost lyrical language used, the eloquent words carefully chosen to depict each aspect, spellbinding. Read it aloud; it sings. And this is just one of the many wonderful descriptions you’ll find in this book.

I won’t say anything more as a friend wants to borrow it, so don’t want to give too much away. Just buy it, read it and fall in love.

Tuesday saw the last Lee Marvin reading from this series in the Dark Horsey Bookshop, where Ken Bolton introduced Gay Lynch, Cath Kenneally and Louise Nicholas. And an entertaining evening it was.

Lee Marvin 2

I first met Gay at Rachael Mead’s poetry launch of The Sixth Creek roughly this time last year, where she told me about Transnational Literature and encouraged me to submit. Gay writes prose, and shared a short story with us set in a country town told through the eyes of Cecilia, the central protagonist. Listening to Gay, with her dulcet tones and eloquent language was not unlike falling into chocolate – a certain smooth fluid texture leaving you wanting more. And so I have ordered a copy of Cleanskin published by Wakefield Press, Gay’s first novel.

Cath read poems about her recently departed dog, who was either the focus or hovered around the perimeter, and they were touching pieces any pet-lover could relate to, delivered in a poignant, compassionate way. Cath also read a piece inspired by Joni Mitchell, the haunting Canadian singer-songwriter, who I remember most from Love Actually where Emma Thompson’s character is fascinated with her music…I digress.

Louise began with poems about her mother who died with dementia a few years ago. These were brave, emotive pieces, both poignant and humorous, that blurred the boundary between mother and daughter. Louise’s performances never fail to entertain. She provides context, shares with feeling, makes connections, and it’s this raw real intimacy that I find so appealing – she leaves you feeling like you’re old friends. Louise also read a poem inspired by Sharon Olds, which only served to demonstrate her unique encompassing talent. Louise’s most recent collection Large from Garron Publishing is an entertaining read.

I asked Ken, host of Lee Marvin, how he selects his readers. He replied by recommendation usually, but added there’s nothing to stop me from recommending myself. So I did! And he invited me to read at a slot in September!! I am thrilled because these events are ‘a must see’ in the Adelaide poetry scene and to share the stage (i.e. desk and lamp) with some of Adelaide’s finest writers is quite an honor. No pressure

shocked face

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