Wednesday, July 25, 2012

"Infected with disturbing silver..."

After the initial sadness at her passing I have come to realise how lucky I am to have read (and own) so many of Margaret Mahy's books. They are dense with magic and ideas, and eternal truths lurk between the lines. Like the Higgs Boson particles, we know if we look hard enough we might be lucky enough to catch them there. I was lucky to meet Ms Mahy both in person and through her writing.

She has been likened to some of NZ's other great writers such as Janet Frame and Katherine Mansfield. She has been called our greatest children's writer. But I believe her to be NZ's greatest writer ever. The age of her audience is irrelevant. Her skill with words, the breadth of themes and topics she explored, the sheer volume of work she produced, her wit and fearlessness, her essays, her discussions, her generosity were all breathtaking. What she left behind is truly remarkable.

She is the benchmark, the giddy heights and the love of words all writers should aspire to, yet she never climbed over any other writer, or genre to elevate her own work. I wish I could be Margaret when I grow up. She has infected me and happily there is no cure...

One hot summer night Angela woke up and found she could not go back to sleep again for, beyond her closed lids, the room was infected with disturbing silver. (the first sentence from The Catalogue of the Universe by Margaret Mahy - one of my favourites).

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