Other people’s words about … country and city life
Ramesh was used to the sounds of the suburbs. He never noticed barking dogs or level crossings. On the train to work every morning he turned up the volume of his audiobook so it was louder than other passengers’ mobile phone conversations. But [tonight he was in] the country [and it] roared. He could hear the air move in the trees. He had grown up in Croydon, moved to Glasgow at seventeen, back to London at twenty-three, then Sydney at thirty-six. As a child he’d stood outside his parents’ bedroom listening to his father’s whistling snore. He liked living in places where he could hear others alive. He reached for his phone where it sat charging. For an instant he saw his hands illuminated in the bluish light of its screen. He set his rain sound app to the setting called ‘Harbour Storm’.
‘What are you doing?’ Henry croaked. His face was pressed to the pillow. ‘You don’t need that tonight.’
Ramesh opened his mouth to argue, then he heard the rain outside, like gunfire on the corrugated iron roof.
from ‘Pulse Points‘
by Jennifer Down
I love this passage, not because I’m in accordance with Ramesh, but for the opposite reason. I love the ‘roar’ of the country. I spend most of my time living in a house in the suburbs. It’s close to the beach, which I love, but it’s even closer to the railway line, a line that trains zip up and down every half an hour from five in the morning until midnight.
Sunset, early August 2022.
I don’t mind the sound of trains, actually — as suburban sounds go, I find it vaguely comforting — but when I leave my house to stay outside the city, to visit Aldinga Scrub or to camp in Yorke Peninsula, I feel a knot inside my chest of which I wasn’t even aware releasing itself.
Sounds I love when I am away from the city: the dull roar of the ocean at the end of the road (yes, another roar). The whistle of a hot wind through the trees. A frogmouth letting out its low, persistent, booming call at dusk. A shrike thrush singing. A magpie warbling. Frogs croaking. Insects clicking in the grass. And, yes, like Ramesh, the rain drumming on the roof.
Still, the photo accompanying my post today, like so many of my photos on this blog these days, comes from the suburban beach at the end of the street I live on. The sand is being eroded away and there are car parks dotted along the coast line and on most weekends a food truck selling hot donuts sets up shop during daylight hours.
But it’s still the beach. It’s still wide and beautiful and open and … The sea still roars.
Lately I’ve been reading …
It’s a lengthy list today, because I’ve been reading far more than I’ve been posting. But I hope you find something interesting below.
- There is an extremely pale woman with purple-black stains on her fingertips, and one poor soul who is writhing in agony with abdominal pain but nobody can understand the language he is speaking: Maggie O’Farrell on the unexpected long-term side effects of Covid.
- I’m shocked by how quickly people have normalized the pandemic and our governments’ response to it—how easily they write off those lockdown months as a period when ‘nothing happened’, when in fact the unthinkable happened: Claire Pollard, also writing about Covid-19, in her case about bearing witness, or why we should write about what is happening now.
- Publisher’s Marketplace, the industry website that logs book deals, is doing away with the women’s fiction category, finally. Fiction will be commercial, or it will be literary, or it will reside in a genre category that doesn’t make such explicit assumptions about gender: Cara Blue Adams on Melissa Banks, women’s fiction, and why it’s not all chick lit. I haven’t read Banks yet, but I will, now I’ve read Adams’s article.
- Writing is an attempt to keep it together: Ella Risbridger, in a wonderful, thoughtful piece on memoir, fiction, love, loss, pain and writing.
- In the ocean’s shadowy twilight zone, between 600 and 800 metres beneath the surface, there are fish that gaze upwards through their transparent heads with eyes like mesmerising emerald orbs: Helen Scales on the wonderful barreleye fish.
- I take it for granted that books are good for us: David L Ulin on the virtues and joys of reading.