‘Alone and in close company’ : Reading and Companionship in Brenda Walker’s Reading by Moonlight

Brenda Walker's Reading by Moonlight: How Books Saved a Life opens with a seemingly straightforward childhood remembrance of a family friend who lived surrounded by books. The young Walker is drawn to the man's watercolour of a dead girl and the way in which the spines ofthe books are reflected in the painting's glass: 'The girl seemed to be floating in a transparent library. It suited her, as if pale girls were best seen through the reflection of ink and paper' (2). Throughout her memoir Walker paints a portrait ofa selfreflected and refracted through a selection of 'ink and paper', her chosen books. It is a portrait that at once invites companionable intimacy yet is highly constructed and protective of Walker's solitude. This double movement sets up a powerful tension that structures and drives the narration; it is a tension sustained by the dialectic between the more abstract, intellectual musings of the speaker and the lived reality of her wounded body.

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Published 1 May 2012 in Volume 27 No. 1. Subjects: Autobiographical writing, Illness, Reading.

Cite as: Brennan, Bernadette. ‘‘Alone and in close company’ : Reading and Companionship in Brenda Walker’s Reading by Moonlight.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 27, no. 1, 2012. https://doi.org/10.20314/als.db9d23467b.