Janice Galloway (1999) The Trick Is To Keep Breathing.

The title comes from a fragment near the end of the book and relates to swimming and life. Joy, the narrator, is a twenty-seven year old schoolteacher. She teaches drama, but in life she keeps fluffing her lines. She’s not quite sure about anything and, in this her first book, the experienced reader looks for clues to Galloway’s identity. Joy has got an older sister (Mhari) she’s terrified of. So does Galloway. Check. Her mother walked into the sea and tried to kill herself. Check. Her granny left her documents and glass eye out before she died in a house fire. Check.  Galloway became a school teacher. Check. Listen to Joy at her morbid best: ‘Sometimes things get worse before they get better. Sometimes they just get worse. Sometimes all that happens is passing time.’ This encapsulates the trick is to keep breathing. There’s no great answers. No tricks. You just get on with it. Sometimes there’s no joy in that and sometimes it’s difficult to say whose voice is speaking. Galloway just tells it like it is. How hard can that be? Try it.


'You just get on with it'. Sums it up, eh. Terrific book and I like your blog. Notice you have now led me down the primrose path into blogging! Can't stay away. Edgelands, my blog subject, written by Paul Farley and Michael Symons Roberts is a stunning read. All about wilderness, abandoned, semi-derelict places developing their own life cycles. Paul Farley is one of my fave modern poets. As you pointed out recently poets can write!     

'Telling it like it is'. Pehaps for the author these are the stories that feel like a 'I have to tell them, right now'. Not hard to write the initial draft, only a little harder to go back and tauten each line for best choice of word. Can come in any genre. Sometimes easy to find readers and listeners, sometimes harder to push them forward. Recurrent themes.       Elsie      

yeh, Elsie I read your blog on Edgelands. Sounds like my type of book. But I've got about five books opened and feel guilty for not finishing them sooner. Oh dear!