Click on the arrow above to listen to Antonia’s reading.
“Hi I’m Antonia Strakosch, and I’m reading an excerpt from my fiction manuscript in progress, Remington Portable.
The cabin fell silent, then a gasp rose up as the plane lurched forcefully to the right. It seemed fitting that the book Sarah was proposing to write, the one she was travelling to New York to research, the one that in ten days she would have to explain in the creative writing workshop at her new university, would be the death of her one way or another. Its vast unwrittenness pulsed against the crash and tug of the plane. Suddenly, stillness, then a lunge so forceful Sarah’s head smacked against the window. She considered the possibility of death here in the eternal unholy night. It would make things a whole lot simpler.
The novel Sarah had proposed to write inspired by her grandparents’ escape from Nazi Vienna had seemed possible on the university application. Now, however, its impossibility struck her as something momentous. A speck of light peeked through Sarah’s eye mask. In it, clarity—the sum total of all she had convinced herself she could do. Sarah saw now that the application form—her statement of purpose and the outline and significance of her creative project—was her triumph, a few pages of fraudulent gold she had spun one lucid evening after a half-bottle of De Bortoli Sacred Hill. She had fleshed out the four stray facts she knew of her grandparents’ life, embellishing in a way she sensed was poetic, keeping the writing clean then swinging in with a moment of poignancy to really clutch the Graduate School’s throat.
The university hadn’t only accepted Sarah, they’d offered her a two-year scholarship. Until she’d received notification in the mail before Christmas, Sarah was convinced she had the book in her. But the promised payment, a fortnightly deposit into her bank account of $876, had struck some unlucky moral chord. The money forced her to probe deeper. Her motivations were pure, but when had motivation counted for anything? The fact she intended to write the book counted for nothing unless a book was in fact produced. Unfortunately, the subject of her grandparents filled her with complex, genuine emotion but precious little to actually say. What she knew of their life wasn’t even sufficient to form a skeleton on which Sarah could drape her novel’s flesh.”
ABOUT ANTONIA STRAKOSCH:
Antonia Strakosch is completing her first novel, a magic-realist story about the Holocaust narrated by a Remington 5 Portable typewriter, as part of an MPhil in Creative Writing at the University of Queensland, with the assistance of an Australian Postgraduate Award. She has published short stories and food criticism, and was the recipient of a Varuna Fellowship for Writing Retreat in 2010. In July 2011, she travelled to Portland, Oregon to participate in the Tin House Summer Writers’ Workshop.
“I was on retreat at Varuna for two blissful weeks in January 2011 as part of the selective Fellowship program. The wraparound main study, with its windows on three sides and view over the garden, was where I found the heart of my novel. I will always think of Varuna as the place where I became a writer.” Antonia Strakosch
‘Alan of Oxley’: The Lifted Brow, No.5, August 2009
‘Little and Golden’: Isaac’s Numbers Anthology, 2008
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