Listening is harder than you think

Featured in

  • Published 20080603
  • ISBN: 9780733322815
  • Extent: 272 pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm)

ON THE VARNISHED surface of the table at which I sit to write someone has scored the three quarter view of a naked girl looking over her shoulder. It has a certain copyist facility; the hand spread coquettishly on the hip is surprisingly well drawn, proportionally correct, with the angled jut of wrist-bones allowing for the space between forearm and hand that is left out by amateurs. The artist has botched the face with too much detail, the mouth too high and pursed, the nose a shapeless blob. He has given up altogether with the eyes, producing a kind of lewd squint. Beside the figure the word ‘CUNT’ has been scratched in scrawling capitals.

The annexe in which I stay when I live in the community was built several years ago as temporary accommodation for the builders contracted to erect a number of new houses. When I first moved in there was a poster on the wall, larger than life size, of a pouting blonde in flimsy underwear, airbrushed to such saccharine perfection that she might have been created for a comic strip. For a time I left her there, companion to the nude inscribed on the table, twin genius loci of generic male fantasy and a reminder of the contradictions of this place. The young women here are black-skinned, dark-haired, already overweight from fat and sugar, underemployment and early pregnancy. In the end the pouting blonde’s vacuity irritated me too much, and I used her to light my winter fire-drum, watching with satisfaction the vapid blue eyes flame briefly before curling into ash.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

If you are an educator or student wishing to access content for study purposes please contact us at

Share article

More from author

Lost and found in translation

EssayThe vast continent is really void of speech...this speechless, aimless solitariness was in the air. It was natural to the country. DH Lawrence, Kangaroo   UNLIKE MANY...

More from this edition

Stories from the dustbin

Essay‘A WRITER,' DECLARED the novelist Thomas Mann, ‘is someone for whom writing is harder than it is for other people.' University-based historians working in...

Never Never Dreaming

MemoirWHEN I LOOKED at my father, I imagined Australia. In those first memories he is a tall figure in a dark blue uniform: handsome,...

Stay up to date with the latest, news, articles and special offers from Griffith Review.