'A song of survival: Neil Hegarty on Janet Frame and Owls Do Cry'
Such a thoughtful, fascinating and well-researched review of Janet Frame's Owls Do Cry in The Irish Times today! The new Virago Modern Classics edition is attracting some excellent commentary, and the time is certainly long overdue for a fresh perspective to be brought upon this classic novel and on Janet Frame's oeuvre in general:
"Owls Do Cry is a devastating reflection on the character of conventional society and the dangers that await those who reject its narrowness – and as such, is profoundly chilling. It is also a vivid social document, capturing the language and texture of the postwar period. It is a heartbreaking evocation of childhood and a child’s vision of the world; and not least, it is a work of considerable lyrical beauty."Hegarty gives some of the history of reception of Frame's debut novel and indeed the "prurient" and "unmistakably gendered" attention to analysing her private life "for evidence of madness or eccentricity".
But, he says, Frame survived, and the work she produced is her vindication:
"she emerged victorious – and the evidence of this victory lies not in parsing excessively the stuff of her life, but in reading what she created in the course of it."Bravo!