scented gardens for the blind

altered from

altered from


The winds of love blow only in the forests of people; without them there is no more caring.

And what is it, precisely, that has vanished?

Truth may be a vast ocean within reach of all but how genuine are truths that have been drawn from the ocean, distilled, bottled, flavored, diluted, chilled, boiled, in fact adulterated with the potion of ourselves?

The Pure Truth Act requires a label to be added to each truth, stating the known percentage of adulteration.

Edward is a dark-haired man wearing dark-rimmed spectacles. Edward is a balding man wearing rimless mirror-like spectacles. Both are true, if one removes the adulteration of Time. Even in his own life Edward has tried through greed or desperation to remove Time. He is not a king or a hero but he ran as fast as his life would carry him when he realized the presence of the impure enemy, the impossibility of fighting against it, the despairing fact that he nursed it against his own left wrist, listening attentively each day to its confident heartbeats.

(janet frame: scented gardens for the blind, p.39)

janet frame. read her.
not her poetry (it’s not very good, and nowhere near as enchanting and magically strange as her fiction), read her short stories (you are now entering the human heart contains a bunch of really interesting stories) and mainly her novels, my favorites there are owls do cry and scented gardens for the blind. faces on the water also needs mentioning – with a caution. it is intense to the point of being emotionally draining. quite the book.

janet frame is part of new zealand’s literary pride and joy. i think her grandmother was a maori princess – a theme she picks up in more than one instance in her stories. (for example in the lagoon.) identity is one of her themes, as you will notice fairly quickly.

i guess it is her underlying theme of mental health / making sense of a world that makes little sense at all, that attracted me to frame’s books. her personal story is interesting, you can read her own account of it in “angel at my table” for example, if you want to know about the person who wrote these texts.

i know i bought the lagoon – her first short story collection – because of its cool silver blue cover and because i had read that this book won her a prize which pretty much saved her life: she was on the list for a lobotomy, and might at that time well have ended up as a drooling vegetable had not someone decided her writing was important enough to not destroy this mind. thank you! thank you.

frame’s stories are strong because of the strong, well-observed / well-constructed characters they contain. owls do cry is beautiful in the way it weaves different persons’ realities into each other, how it tells a story from so many angles and touches on the sophistication of coffee cake over plain chocolate cake.

these people create themselves, whether they want to or not, and getting inside their heads has been most interesting to me. go inside to look outside. is there a mirror?

I deceive myself; I cheat. I grant myself blindness, accepting it as a deserved gift. I spend so much time writing here while my only daughter sits lonely and silent by her window (in the sun, though; the sun shines in there at morning, it rises over the sea, casting a cool silver glow on the water, like the twinkling of fishes of light caught in the new net of morning). (p.67)


About annette.c.boehm

words escape me.

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