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Reflections of a working writer and reader



Out Stealing Timber V

As Siri said, the point about that story – the one when her ex-husband beat her – is that she got away.

Telling the story helped her to shed the life.

Because life is about change, about being adaptable, about the search for new forms. Death is about getting stuck in a form that is beyond metamorphosis – about a form that has become sclerotic and in which we are incapacitated.

In artistic life the search is the same, for new forms. The novel, like all other artistic endeavours, only survives because of its adaptability.

And perhaps it’s the same with Theastuene, it wasn’t originally as it is today, the slates on the roof are new; back in its first incarnation the roof was of sod, the glass panes in the windows certainly not double-glazed. And the white paint which preserves the boards today, although it was available in Thea’s day, would not have been used as it was extremely expensive. The house timbers would have been impregnated with pine tar and linseed oil, giving it the colour of honey and the aroma of an evergreen forest.

If it had always been like it is today, we wouldn’t have a story about it, or about Thea herself. We wouldn’t have been able to say, Once upon a time, in spring 1864, or thereabouts, Thea Pedersdatter was kneading sourdough on the kitchen table when there was a commotion on the path outside the window.
. . . . . . . . . . to be continued

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