Friday 23 January 2015

The Monkey's Mask by Dorothy Porter

After rereading some of my Porter poems for a recent post, I felt a very strong desire to read one her verse novels.

But I had none to hand.

However I did have a copy of Rebecca Jessen's verse novel Gap on my TBR pile.
I thought, that will do for now.

But for some unknown reason, I googled Jessen before starting the book.

For the record, I never pre-google.

I post-google; I just-out-of-curiosity-even-though-I-will-probably-regret-it-google; I even procrastinate-google. But I never pre-google.

For the record, my pre-google search found an article Jessen wrote for Readings last year, citing the influence of the one and only Dorothy Porter on her writing.

The gods had spoken.

Before I could read Jessen, I simply had to read the source; the beginning of it all; The Monkey's Mask.

Fortunately I work in a small Indy bookshop.
Three days later, the book was in my hand.

24 hrs later, I had devoured it, dreamt it & dropped it in the bath (the water had got cold as I had to finish the book before I got out!)

The Monkey's Mask is part crime thriller (Jill is an ex-cop turned private eye), part sexy romp (Jill is a lonely lesbian), part romance (Jill falls in love), part poetry appreciation 101 (Jill's case is a murdered poetry student).

Jill's voice is ironic, brash and vulnerable "I've got no head for heights/but plenty of stomach/for trouble".

There are times Jill sounds like a poetic Philip Marlowe!

And just like Marlowe's cases you feel the tension rise. You can see the mystery unfold until you want to cry out "look out! behind you!"

But none of this does Porter's story justice.
The Monkey's Mask is gritty, exciting & passionate.
Not one single word is out of place.

Porter's words have captured me - they will haunt me for years to come.
I am not done with her yet!

This post is part of my Australian Women Writers challenge.


  1. Anonymous24/1/15

    Now this. Is still a gap in my reading. Even my son has read it What's wrong with me! I do enjoy a good verse novel, and I like Porter. BTW, love your Google practice. It's similar to mine.

  2. Oh, wonderful - I had no idea this even existed (something I always feel doubly bad about when it comes to Australian authors).


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