Postcards from Surfers
by Helen Garner
McPhee Gribble/Penguin, 106p., $5.95
Marion Campbell’s first book is an ambitious work in which large themes are explored through the consciousness of a complex character, Rita Finnerty, a twenty-five-year-old Australian artist living in France. The writing is richly dense with images, symbolic clues, psychological insight poetic and painterly language, time layered with memory and even stories within the story.
Rita is caught in a constant passage between two poles: solitude, where she paints on her own terms but is in terror of the void; and society, where she is initially solaced by the ‘frames’ in which friends and lovers place her, but where she soon loses her personal and painting integrity. Psychologically sophisticated, Rita is aware of the connection between the death in her childhood of her father and her desire to please subsequent ‘daddylaps’. As an adult she sees herself as too easily becoming a ventriloquist’s doll, mouthing the meanings of others.