Saving this commissioned piece for Melbourne’s readers and writers centre website to read later.
Delia is one of our finest essayists.
Animals, it occurs to me, have been keeping us unnerving company in our recent fiction – most obviously, in J.M. Coetzee’s novels, preoccupied by their industrial slaughter. But also Michelle de Kretser’s The Lost Dog (2008); Charlotte Wood’s Animal People (2011); and, more obliquely, Deborah Robertson’s Sweet Old World (2012). I was thinking only last week that I could hardly imagine some of our more humanist writers, like Frank Moorhouse or Helen Garner, writing about pets – then opened my latest copy of the Monthly to discover Garner’s sharp piece about a red heeler who drops his chivalrous facade.
If, as Coetzee has written, animals now ‘have only their silence left with which to confront us’, they have been shadowing our literature lately with a quiet force.