– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –
Today I’m on the ‘All The Beautiful Liars’ blogtour, organised by Rachel’s Random Resources.
To promote this book I have a guest post written by its author, but b
About the Author :
Sylvia Petter was born in Vienna but grew up in Australia, which makes her Austr(al)ian.
She started writing fiction in 1993 and has published three story collections, The Past Present, Back Burning and Mercury Blobs. She has a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of New South Wales.
After living for 25 years in Switzerland, where she was a founding member of the Geneva Writers’ Group, she now lives in Vienna once more.
How true are the family histories that tell us who we are and where we come from? Who knows how much all the beautiful liars have embargoed or embellished the truth?
During a long flight from Europe to Sydney to bury her mother, Australian expat Katrina Klain reviews the fading narrative of her family and her long quest to understand her true origins. This has already taken her to Vienna, where she met her Uncle Harald who embezzled the Austrian government out of millions, as well as Carl Sokorny, the godson of one of Hitler’s most notorious generals, and then on to Geneva and Berlin. Not only were her family caught up with the Nazis, they also turn out to have been involved with the Stasi in post-war East Germany.
It’s a lot to come to terms with, but there are more revelations in store. After the funeral, she finds letters that reveal a dramatic twist which means her own identity must take a radical shift. Will these discoveries enable her to complete the puzzle of her family’s past?
Inspired by her own life story, Sylvia Petter’s enthralling fictional memoir set between the new world and the old is a powerful tale about making peace with the past and finding closure for the future.
Guest Post :
Thanks for having me on your blog. I thought a post about language might be of interest to you because different languages not only underpin my writing and Katrina Klain´s, but also your own.
So here goes:
When your mother´s tongue is not your mother tongue
Like Katrina Klain´s, my parents were of German-speaking background, but we rarely, if at all, spoke German at home in Sydney, Australia. Who needed German in 50s Australia when “new Australian” had a certain stigma to it and no one knew how long it would take to really belong?
I can´t even remember ever having spoken German at home, although I must have heard it since Mum had been thrown in at the proverbial deep end. Cliché alert! We´ll get to that later.
Lousy in maths, I opted for languages (French and German) – hey, I could speak English – and after graduation took off to see the world. In Vienna, the city of my birth, I studied translation, with my closest brush with fame coming via my teacher doing simultaneous interpretation of the moon landing on tv. And that brush is what sent me to Geneva via Helsinki as a rookie translator at an international conference on security and cooperation in Europe. (Can you see how things are beginning to add up?) Already in Vienna, I had been starting to lose my English mother tongue – so easy when all the students were multilingual, so deforming though because I got lazy and didn´t bother to look for the correct words, knowing that anyway, I´d be understood in my group of like minds. In Geneva, where French was added to the mix, I was talking a trilingual mish-mash, until I decided I needed my own words and wanted to learn how to write them. So, I had to learn backwards and rediscover my mother tongue.
Katrina Klain in Vienna starts writing poems to sort out her feelings about home and belonging. The different languages open themselves to rich images and word games as she forgets translation and takes words at face value – seeing rats in the Rathaus or Town Hall, for example. New images can lead to all sorts of associations that can make for fresh metaphors. But there is also a danger in the early days of seeking a voice when no longer in the country of one’s mother tongue: the cliché lies in wait to insinuate itself as a fresh take into phrases and sentences.
Clichés felt so fresh to me perhaps because they were disguised as comfort blankets. But reading in the mother tongue more than in the language of the country one is in can help here, never mind calls for integration for, after all, the tone drives the music. What a translation! Another one for the rat house, no doubt.
Writing, though is what saved me, and it also saves Katrina, who must finish writing her story in time to escape the Panopticon and take her life in her own hands, with her own words, to live in her own time.
I hope this throws some light on the journey of Katrina Klain, and my own.
The Magic of Wor(l)ds