Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Ghosts in olive oil


During autumn and winter, when the worst winds howled, the summer lived on in the red and orange and green of the fruit and vegetables pressed into glass jars and sealed.
 As the temperature dropped, olive oil went cloudy in the bottle.
   Once, when I was still too young to dispute the facts, Pierre warned me that the eerie white shapes held in the oil were imprisoned spirits.
   ‘Like ghosts?’ I asked.
   ‘Bad ghosts.’
   ‘Will they escape?’
   ‘If they do, what will we do? Will they catch us if we run?’
   ‘We will be pinned to the ground, unable to move, while they do terrible things.’

                                                                      From The Lantern

There are floating spirits in the olive oil on this stall at Apt market, on a cold morning in early March. Dead-white globular forms have gathered in the golden amber, clusters of crystals that have clumped in low temperatures from the natural waxes in the olive fruit. When the oil warms, they disappear and the product will be none the worse for it - indeed they show this is good quality, natural food.


But how much more fun it is, as a writer, to revert to childhood and imagine ghosts through the characters in a book. Imaginary fears run like threads all through The Lantern, but magnified rather than lessened by the knowledge that what we catch ourselves imagining – and then dismissing as we come to our senses – is always much less of a threat than the truth. On a deeper level, this is a novel about reading and writing and the inner life these activities promote, of the stimulus to the imagination and the way that changes how we see the world. 

            The novel keys into timeless fears of the unknown, and the uncertainty when the first stages of an idyllic romance are over and real life begins. It’s also a novel of the senses: as well as vivid visual descriptions of the landscape, I’ve tried to evoke smell and taste and sound and feel until there is an inescapable feeling that there is also a sixth sense in play, an instinctive sense of foreboding that cannot be explained rationally.

If paintings, especially impressionist art, show us not what is there but what the artist wants us to see, then a similar claim can be made for painting in words. The writer shines a light into the ordinariness of daily life and suggests there is more, under the skin, if we would only look.

28 comments:

Richard said...

Sois contente, Deborah de pouvoir regarder ces globules au fond de ta bouteille d'olive. Comme le dépôt du vin, cette petite imperfection, qui se résorbe avec la chaleur, témoigne de la pureté, du naturel, de cette huile artisanale.
Aux USA, il n'y aurait aucune trace car la bouteille serait passée devant les rayons X...
Bonne journée!

Danièle said...

Quelle image sensationnelle! Déscartes et Hégel sont fiers :-)

kellyhashway said...

I love this idea! Great post!

Forest Dream Weaver said...

Under the skin,I think that's where inspiration kicks in.

Enjoy your day!

la fourchette said...

I always enjoy looking into the field of the light you're shining, Deborah.

~dawn said...

BEAUTIFUL!
There are many parts to the mortar binding writers, artists, musicians together - undeniabley, one of those parts is the ability to find extraordinary aspects to the mundane everyday observation and/or experiences. I carry my camera with me everywhere and oftentimes I stop to take a photo and the individual with me states, "you're taking a picture of 'that' ?" Then I'll post said photo and my writer friends 'get me'

Your imagery is lovely! An ardent fan of olive oil, and I shall never look at it the same :)
~d

(Florida) Girl said...

Beautiful words. I can already tell your story is going to be rich with delicious detail. Thank you for visiting my blog. I am your newest follower.

Janel said...

I am always drawn to books and blogs of writers who write like you do. I can't resist lush descriptions.

Mysteriousrose said...

Hi Deborah

I think this idea is fun:-)

I'm a new follower, saw your blog on book blogs.
I hope you will stop by my blog when you find the time.

Mysteriousbooks

Cathy K said...

Anything can be distilled it seams! Love your delicious strings of words!

bex said...

Oh, follower number 300! I really like your blog and I definitely like the sound of your books as well. Haven't looked too closely yet, but I'm on my way to!

Thanks for stopping by my blog as well. :)

Rebecca @ kindle fever

Scrollwork said...

There it is, the answer to "How do I know if I'm a writer?" that someone posted on SheWrites.

As journalists we're supposed to report on what is. As writers we can use the power of words to full advantage, evoking what lies beneath.

MuMuGB said...

My dad says that what you call the ghost is evidence that it is good, natural olive oil...just saying...

Jacqueline said...

I love your quote "painting in words"!

Kenya D. Williamson said...

You look deeply, Deborah. And you transport us while doing so. I've given your blog an award.

http://kenyadwilliamson.blogspot.com/p/my-awards.html

Yvonne Osborne said...

Your website has a beautiful look and The Lantern sounds intriguing, a most unique idea for a novel and I, too, will never look at olive oil the same. Thanks for visiting my blog!

Lisa Erin said...

Olive oil...never cook without it. Thanks for the eerie imagery. Makes me like it all the more...

Adiante said...

Honte à moi, je ne connais que l'huile d'olive du supermarché !
Merci pour cette leçon !

le blÖg d'Ötli said...

C'est beau de voir que ton imaginaire puise dans les plus petits détails de la vie...

✿ ♥ France ✿ ✿ said...

J'aime l'huile d'olive et je trouve tes photos superbes.PUIS les olives c'est la vie
BISE

Samantha Sotto-Yambao said...

Great excerpt :) I really like what you said about the role of suggestion in writing. I think that suggestion gives readers room to imagine and connect with the story on a deeper level.

C.E. Hart said...

Wow! I love this post. How inspiring.

I'll forever think of 'ghosts' when I open an olive oil bottle. lol

Love it

James Kiester said...

Absolutely! Shining a spotlight on any single mundane moment in life, can help a writer create an extraordinary story or poem. "To the Man in a Loden Coat" by Deborah Garrison, for example, takes place during a single moment as the speaker tries to catch his bus home, but through the poem we see glimpses of the speaker's attitudes toward life. Likewise, old globs of fat in olive oil can spark a narrative on ghosts.

Leovi said...

No, olive oil there are no ghosts, no inspiration. I love olive oil as well as wine. Can not find an English poem XIII in the picture makes sense. But few people are able to capture the idea that I want to pass even reading the poem. The key is the end:


I'd leave your side if you told me now
that I love you just as men love
or my voice sounds like all the voices.

(translated with Google Traslator)

I mean that skin attractive and hypocritical some people who dress to get sex. But in the end the skin is broken and you see the true love.

renilde said...

Loved to read this, you've put it into words so very well. And yes that sixth sense...the real meaning of things often so well hidden but certainly there. I guess that's what I try to paint too, x

Carolina said...

Beautiful pictures and words... and I learned something new! I've always lived in warm climates, so I've never seen olive oil do this. I guess my olive oil is just "dis-spirited." : )

Visiting from LBS

Jennifer said...

What a wonderful imagination you have! Thanks for sharing another bit of The Lantern with us...as I have said before I am eagerly awaiting its release in the U.S.

Daniel Pitt said...

Doubtlessly, Destiny Olives is one of the most viable companies to get in touch with for natural olive oil.
Natural olive oil

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