Read Towards Another Summer by Janet Frame Free Online
Book Title: Towards Another Summer|
The author of the book: Janet Frame
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Reader ratings: 3.3
Edition: Vintage, Random House, New Zealand
Date of issue: 2007
ISBN: No data
ISBN 13: No data
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 9.20 MB
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Nothing is simple if your mind is a fetch-and-carry wanderer from sliced perilous outer world to secret safe inner world; if when night comes your thought creeps out like a furred animal concealed in the dark, to find, seize, and kill its food and drag it back to the secret house in the secret world, only to discover that the secret world has disappeared or has so enlarged that it's a public nightmare."
Towards Another Summer was a novel that Janet Frame wrote in the 1960s. Biographical and not published until 2007, after her death. I am only making assumptions, of course, because I have not (yet) read her memoirs and other autobiographical works. Frame wrote about being buried in eight years of a mental institution. No will of your own. Misdiagnosed as a schizophrenic, she was subjected to two hundred electric shock treatments. No mind of your own. She was scheduled for a lobotomy that was only circumvented because of the literary prizes that she had won. I feel too sad that her life was saved by literary prizes. If I were looking for a reason to say, "There! Humanity can suck so hard" that would be a contender. That she could save her own life gives me hope. There are passages from some of them that have stirred me (not to mention comments from a couple of goodreads members I respect who have written in high praise of her). I ordered already, with hope, a few of her books from online used book sellers. There are some passages from these that have made me want to read her and find out about this woman with this soul who could write like this about living like that. I don't know yet because I don't have those books. Towards Another Summer was available on ebook so I went ahead and read it. It wasn't until I started feeling this pressure on my chest, trapped in a voice of someone who consistently wishes a take back and words she didn't want to belong to her, that I went online in search of reviews to find out if anyone else felt what I did. Did anyone else feel as if they were going to get locked in this aimless step that's afraid to go inside anywhere? I found out that she had not intended the book to be published at all. It was too personal. I feel some guilt about reading it anyway, if she truly hadn't intended it to be read. I wonder if the reason why this particular book could not be read, while those other books were sent into the world, is that feeling that you're not going to be able to crawl back up this time. Crawling is good if you get somewhere. If you don't mind if anyone knows you crawled then you're doing okay in my book. Have you ever pulled yourself out of something that you don't know how you survived, only to feel so ashamed when you succumb to the same problem again? It steals from the past triumph that's your own "I did that". Maybe sometimes people need you to love them anyway, even when they don't believe that anyone could understand it. I read the rest of the book. Grace the character would have hoped for someone to notice. She would have hoped for them to lift her on their own wings and soar. Not loaned out of pity to be repaid in unmet eyes later, but like how it is okay to borrow money from family, if you have the right kind of family. She might be too afraid to find out if they were the right kind and I feel trapped there because that's something I don't like about me either. Yeah, I've written about social anxiety books before on goodreads. This one is different because the space you crawl to is the one you don't forget about later during the good days when it is easier. I have told people in my life flat out that I didn't want to get into the pain I felt over dropping out twice, that I didn't want to constantly discuss what my "next step" would be. It's worse that I avoid talking to people altogether so that they won't ask me those questions. I don't want to think about it far more than I am reluctant for anyone else to know how much I've quit. It's yourself you're afraid of. It's something about confusion and lack of "I can do that" hope. That's so much worse than social anxiety. You're going to let yourself down. It's not so hard for me now to see how a woman who could be open about those things wouldn't want to admit that it is hard to admit that you're afraid to go home.
Grace is a migratory bird in her convictions. It's undecided what kind of bird (my favorite species from New Zealand are never mentioned as they never leave home). I didn't feel it in spirit that she was the feather and light as air boned specimen, and if she had blurted out to me her truth in one of her the-truth-must-be-uttered-at-least-this-once moments I would not have felt the transforming power in her desires. For me the migratory bird fantasies were the weakest of Towards Another Summer. In my book review search I was really hoping that someone would have written what I had been thinking. No one has mentioned David Grossman's The Book of Intimate Grammar (I'm rereading it as of this writing. This book is so underrated it makes me sad. I'll have to love it more and talk about it now). Young Aron is trapped in his own flesh of a twelve year old boy. Stunted under the weight of the same pressures from unmet eyes if everyone you can see is the wrong kind of family. Would you want to stay twelve in a place like that? Or worse, they'll break your bones like a debt collector when you can't pay up in what is expected of you. Aron stores up words inside of himself. Repeating and polishing them inside until they are "safe" to use and send out into the world. Trying to grow something inside his mind that breaks itself against what it resists. The transformation is a caterpillar to a cocoon. Grace's similar obsession with the meanings of words as a rug ripped out from under her reminded me a lot of Aron. Her mother warns them to stay away from the "magazine" as a dangerous place to play, only to read a periodical she refers to as the same. These words appear on the tip of Grace's tongue like a bitter pill she doesn't want to swallow. It reminded me of the way that one can purposefully hold onto a bad experience, polishing it anew when you need it to remind you not to step too close of what you're afraid of. Grace remembers every time she had ever felt out of place. Was the fault hers. You know that day when everyone else was handed out boyfriends and happy endings? You were sick that day. The dictionary had the proper definitions for what everybody REALLY meant. Too bad you had bad hair that day! (Grace, like Frame, has "bad" frizzy hair.) My heart goes out to her. I do feel what that is like. I also know the unfairness of being like this. The fondness for someone else born from the moment when you felt like you were the person that you wanted to be. Grace would feel as warmly for the person that knew what the right thing to say to her just the same as she can't breathe for fearing what will happen if the wrong thing is what she says. I feel for the person who tries to get close to her.
Recently, Mike Puma wrote a review on goodreads. It was on Emmanuelle Bove's My Friends. He wrote beautifully about this feeling of moving away from home and pining for what you left behind about this book that was not about moving. He could have written that review about Towards Another Summer. I posted a comment in his review. The only thing that stopped me from doing my typical thing of deleting the comment after I posted it was his swift reply addressed to me. Grace agonizes over showing up to breakfast too early. She is afraid of children (because they stare. I've written about feeling this in past goodreads reviews, I am sure). "Yes" is preferred to "No" because the latter requires more of an explanation (in this we differ. I find that I am wholly unwilling to pretend to agree where I do not. I resent more than anything when I am pushed in the slightest after I've already said no. I wonder about Frame's time in the institution where you had not a hope of surviving if you didn't surrender your will entirely. They would have given me a lobotomy and that's that).
The "crushing loneliness" is what happens to Grace. She is homesick for what she will not allow herself. She cannot enjoy the family when she visits Anne (a fellow Kiwi. Meaning New Zealander, not the bird) and her husband Phillip. Anne and Phillip's two little children. The safe age before kids become too scary, when they stare openly as if they can tear down your mental barriers, switching off all the lights that would dawn hope on your deficiencies. Grace is homesick for her home where she sits behind her protective bookcases between her and the window. They would be her barriers from the street that would have cars that would beam their headlights on all of your deficiencies. Geographically speaking, her room may not have been set up that way. I felt that her bookcases protected her. Her books, the words of poets who know her secret places as their own. She is sick for her typewriter. She begs to go home early because she is homesick for her own typewriter, for the two copies of her manuscript hidden away in the home that never once felt as welcoming as this home she has been invited to for the weekend. Please, won't you come again? Grace is homesick for New Zealand.
How can I ever contain within me so much of one land? Was it given to me or have I looked for it, found it, and have I been afraid to return to it?
She is homesick for where she had wandered to as a small child. That secret place she had found and relinquished once she had found it. Search and destroy.
I wish that I had felt in her that she really was no longer a human. That place inside where seh believed it, as opposed to fearing that someone else would think it. To me Grace was not a migratory bird headed towards another summer. She's Aron from The Intimate Book of Grammar who was unable to perform that Houdini escape to fuck off and escape. It's cold in your fridge. I missed her New Zealand for her. I know where she is going to lay down at night. It'll be okay because of this:
Grace remembered a first book by an Australian writer, how the photo on the jacket had been eager, innocent as the photo of Anne; again, it was not only the woman herself, it was her home town, her family, her life. When the writer left Australia to live in England and there published another book with her photo on the jacket, how discreet the camera had been, telling its truth through its small selective lies; freed from the narrow repressive restrictions of home town atmosphere.
I loved Grace for not always being the shy person that is too busy thinking about how they are doing everything wrong that they don't notice that Anne wanted that moment to herself to buy the new sheeting. Sure, she turned it around to guilt about her own presence and Phillip's insistence to show her some sight that Anne didn't get her moment to herself. It hurt so much that the hurt became something to want to get away from. Every encounter is not worth it because of how much agony goes into dissecting everything she could have done differently. She would think that the sun wouldn't set on England again because she had moved to the country and asked a question during a dinner with this couple. My heart went out to Grace but I wouldn't have loved her if she hadn't been able to think about those secret places in New Zealand existing without her. Not for someone who must be accepted without pretenses. That's the hope of being okay anyway. She could and that's what I suspect kept her poet's soul fed. The migratory bird was just the agony. She worried if anyone would notice. No trick words from mama back in New Zealand. How her mother hoarded her own memories to herself as if sharing them with anyone would rob the memories of their power? That would make a person homesick, I think. The kind of homesick that comes from being in the right kind of family and not belonging in it. I feel so much for Grace with her homesickness for her typewriter. She's probably going to write about that kitchen. That's not being able to sleep because when you fly home it's time to be on the move again. I'm wishing that I'd find the poet that knew about the secret place, myself. Poets are the family that you can borrow from, I think.
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Read information about the authorThe fate befalling the young woman who wanted "to be a poet" has been well documented. Desperately unhappy because of family tragedies and finding herself trapped in the wrong vocation (as a schoolteacher) her only escape appeared to be in submission to society's judgement of her as abnormal. She spent four and a half years out of eight years, incarcerated in mental hospitals. The story of her almost miraculous survival of the horrors and brutalising treatment in unenlightened institutions has become well known. She continued to write throughout her troubled years, and her first book (The Lagoon and Other Stories) won a prestigious literary prize, thus convincing her doctors not to carry out a planned lobotomy.
She returned to society, but not the one which had labelled her a misfit. She sought the support and company of fellow writers and set out single-mindedly and courageously to achieve her goal of being a writer. She wrote her first novel (Owls Do Cry) while staying with her mentor Frank Sargeson, and then left New Zealand, not to return for seven years.
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