Friday, October 25, 2013

Author's Pie: Mary Watson

I have been on diet - can you tell?  The lack of pie is my fault alone - the world of golden pastry and bubbling filling is enough to set my pant size to increasing at the drop of a chocolate bar.
Since it's summer and fruit is the poetry of food for this season, how could I not serve up some delicious pie this month. Today we have Mary Watson, author of Moss, a collection of interlinking short stories. Originally from Cape Town, she currently lives in Galway, Ireland. She won the Caine Prize for African Literature in 2006 and was shortlisted for the Rolex Protégé and Mentorship programme in 2012. Her novel, The Cutting Room was published by Penguin South Africa in April this year.
1) How would you classify The Cutting Room?

It’s something of a hybrid book. It has been described it as a literary thriller because it engages with genre while retaining features of a more literary novel. 

2) Why did you use the Haunted House as a predominant plot anchor for The Cutting Room?

I wanted to write a story about criminals, ghosts and buildings. A haunted house seemed good way to integrate some of my main ideas. And I love gothic fiction where run down old houses indicate a kind of inner decay.

3) What is your favourite scene in your novel?

Hard to say, but I quite enjoyed writing the scenes where the rot in Lucinda and Amir’s relationship begins to show. Perhaps the scene where she finds him reading about prisons in the middle of the night and they discuss tailor made punishment – it’s clear that they are disconnected, yet there is still something tender in their interaction with each other. 

4) What book changed your life?

Beloved by Toni Morrison made a huge impact on me when I read it almost twenty years ago. I love the way it combines social commentary, magic, ghosts, genre and prose. Most of all, I love the style of the book, how it uses words in way that is strong, beautiful and acrobatic. 

5) What is your favourite smell and why?
Jasmine at the beginning of a Cape Town spring; small children out in sun and grass then freshly bathed; traces of my mother’s perfume on her clothes.
Mary's Books
A dark, all-pervading sexuality haunts this beautifully wrought collection of interlinked short stories set against the backdrop of the diverse communities of Cape Town. The voice of the collection opens up territory that has only been gingerly approached in South African literature, tenderly probing the occult regions of the psyche in order to expose sexuality and repression, passion and inhibition, and joy and sin. The intriguing overlap of ambiguities and contradictions exposed by this gentle inquiry illuminates the rifts and tears in the tapestry of ardent yet unrecognized South African longings and desires.
The Cutting Room

When her husband Amir abruptly leaves home, film editor Lucinda is left angry and puzzled. Where has Amir gone, and why? In the months before he left, Amir seemed troubled and preoccupied and their marriage had become strained and tense. Now Lucinda worries that his departure could be her fault. Soon afterwards, Lucinda is brutally assaulted in a knife attack, which throws her even more off balance.

 Searching for composure, she finds a distraction in assisting an older friend, Austrian film-maker Thomas, with a documentary he is making about an old mission station which is allegedly haunted. But the experience becomes an unnerving one for Lucinda who finds Thomas’s growing obsession with the story behind his film worrying. As tensions build, so does the underlying mood of constant menace, until Lucinda is confronted with a disturbing revelation.

The Cutting Room is a thoughtful and provocative novel of loss and loneliness, longing and guilt, and the different ways in which people can be haunted.


violininavoid said...

I enjoyed The Cutting Room a lot. I loved the subtly creepiness of it, and all the little details of Lucinda and Amir's relationship. Hope you'll be writing more :)

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