It’s been a tricky, sad and exciting time in literary Australia over the last couple of weeks. Last week, I learned I’d been successful with a Creative Victoria funding application, but had to keep a lid on it until this week when the recipients list was published. As I quietly hugged myself (like any good Enid Blyton character), around me, on twitter and facebook, things were seismic, with grief and anger about leaked Australia Council news that Meanjin and several other (some sixty I think) literary organisations had been unsuccessful in their applications; entities that are funded year in and year out and had no expectation that would cease.
Then this week, yesterday, came the news that Gillian Mears had died. She’d been living with MS for a long while, and some of the tributes to her are gorgeous, heartbreaking, and inspiring. Here is one of the best from Susan Johnson, not an obituary, because it was printed in an Adelaide newspaper in 2011, when Mears’s sublime novel Foal’s Bread was published. It’s more a beautifully-written telling of intimate memories about a woman who, with each piece I read last night and today, becomes more solidly astonishing and magnificent in my imaginings.
If you haven’t read Foal’s Bread, then do. The image of Mears being given a horse by her sister, in an effort to keep her here, and also that she may somehow be transformed into a centaur, with the horse’s legs becoming hers, so she could run across paddocks, is so devastatingly touching and sad, but utterly utterly beautiful.
I intend to hunt out Mears’s earlier works, and would love to hear if people have read her, and loved her too.
Happy weekend to you.