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“Hi, this is Angela Meyer and I’m going to read to you from my novel-in-progress. The working title is Not Like Sensation.
The first time they put Ava in the Big Space she thought of her father. He used to live in a big old house with spiderwebs in corners and his paintings everywhere; on the walls, on the floor, even on the kitchen sink next to a crackling radio. There was hardly any furniture, and sometimes, walking through, you might see ten versions – finished and unfinished – of the same image: a woman with a veil; a purple tree, black moon and slender cat; trees autumnal to naked and wintry. The man himself would be somewhere in all the mess, looking lost and old-fashioned, with black hair and a Clark Gable moustache. Always paint on his shirt, shoes and fingertips. Sometimes on his lips. That is, until he started on Gloss, got back with her mother and sold the big old house to move into the peach-scented suburban home. Around that time, Ava started to feel too much.
But the Big Space was different from her dad’s big old house. It had no paintings, no windows, no dust, no appendages except for the ring of tiny lenses around the top of the walls, reminding you that the Intelligence could be watching.
If you were in the Big Space long enough you peered deeper into the corners. Imagination wasn’t stifled at the Institution. In fact, imagination and desire were crucial to real world Functionality. But Ava’s deep desires, the ones that took over and landed her in the Institution, were apparently too extreme. Her depth of passion for real human bodies, touching them, kissing them, loving them, writing about them, crying about them – to the point of forgetting to work and eat and consume – meant she needed correction and training.
Ava had already lost track of how long she’d been at The Institution for Wellness, Happiness, Functionality and Balance, even though the counsellors enforced the keeping of calendars and schedules on their hSpaces. In fact, Ava was being punished now for the failure of this very task. She’d been put in the Big Space a few times by the new counsellor, a woman called Dean, who was particularly cruel to her.
Ava was here on a grant she’d have to pay back one day. She’d lost her trial, but her parents were in a low-income bracket so they had to put her in anyway, and would make her pay for her own correction. It was called a grant rather than a fine, as it was unimaginable that you wouldn’t want to get better. They all believed they could make her Happy and Well. But Ava didn’t know how to get better. Or whether she wanted to. She did know the stimulations available outside the Institution were greater. And she had a desire for them. But from moment to moment she lived, finding delight in the little things, like the dank behind the yellow.”
ABOUT ANGELA MEYER:
Angela Meyer is a Melbourne-based writer and reviewer. She’s had fiction, articles and reviews published widely, in The Lifted Brow, Torpedo, Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian, The Death Mook, Australian Book Review, Cordite, Southerly, Wet Ink and many more. She is completing a DCA through the University of Western Sydney, and is a former acting editor of Bookseller+Publisher magazine. Her literary blog has been running for almost five years and is well known: http://literaryminded.com.au
Angela was a recipient of the Pathways to Publication Masterclass at Varuna in 2008, for a previous manuscript. ‘I’ll never forget the honest talks I had with Peter Bishop on those lounges. He had such a great memory, and incredible insight into my work and my intentions. That manuscript never fully came together (even after about five drafts) but the time at Varuna was encouraging and important.’ Angela Meyer
Short stories, reviews and articles in books, journals, magazines and online.
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