Monday, September 30, 2013

Skating to Antarctica by Jenny Diski

As much as I love Jenny Diski's writing and insights -her memoir Stranger on a Train was quirky, thoughtful and surprisingly funny- this memoir is a little frustrating as it jumps from what sounds like a very intriguing  trip she takes to Antarctica back to her reminiscences of a rather horrendous childhood. Each story is interesting in its own right and could have, ideally, been written into two separate books.

Perhaps it's just me, but I find it hard tracking down books written by and celebrating introverts. I'd forgotten Diski mentioning this aspect of her personality in Stranger on a Train but now that she goes on at length here about her preference for solitude, it piqued my interest anew and I am resolved to find and read more of her books.

I cannot think why a person sitting with evident contentment in an armchair causes the desire in others for their immediate activity. As a child I would leave the flat when the cries became insistent and find a safe haven on the back stairs, or the furthest end of the corridor next to the bronze, latticed radiator, and resume my non-activity. As an adult, especially when visiting people, I used to make an effort, with considerable distress, put down my book, pull on jumpers, jacket and boots (it's always cold when visiting friends) and go for a walk, every step of which seemed a terrible waste of good sitting time. These days, maturity has enabled me to say a firm no, thank you to the proposition. pg61

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