LMW | The Woman, Mistaken

M a r k   S t e p h e n s
Linda Marie Walker, "The Woman, Mistaken" Little Esther Books, 1999. Little Esther Books are published by South Australian Publishing Ventures & Futures.

The Woman, Mistaken was launched on Wednesday the 17th of November, at SuperMild, as part of the Lee Marvin Readings. The Lee Marvin Readings are held in Adelaide on the third Wednesday of each month and are the result of the dedicated efforts of Ken Bolton.

All quotes are taken from this book and cited with the author's initials and the number of the page on which the quoted passage appears.

This text is formulated in response to the reading of this book. These texts address conditions under which a book is read. These texts invoke the correspondences a reader makes with the matter of subject. This writing addresses the identifications a reader makes with the characters of what is read. It emerges from the bonds which are formed between reader and writer - between writer as reader and reader as writer - between writer as the subject of the text. This book is of relationships. This writing is in, a, relation. This writing, wishing - to evoke a mood and a pace - this writing is not a story. And as I read I have forgotten what I have read - still there are fragments which I remember. No, it has just passed through me, passed with me. This causes anxiety but there is also contentment.

And, despite my age and education, I compose this. (LMW p43.)

This is a love song, begun. (LMW p70.) Love beginning with two bodies. Between.

Of the intimacy of a writer. The intimacy of writing (a book).

And telling will destroy or turn it around. (LMW p35.)

'I' the author, away, in a strange land, writing a book.
'I' the reader - who, in reading the book, also becomes the author.
'I', for now, is me. The reader, as writer, is becoming.
She was transferred. (LMW p13.)

'I' / 'she' / 'him' - ambiguous, personal, pronouns. She is playing with the weight these words thus carry. Each word is chosen carefully (with deliberation). Each word carries the weight of ink upon paper.
The book is this heavy.

This object is the size of a book. I know she is a writer by the size of her book. It is read in an afternoon, of an evening, in one sitting. I am seduced by what, for me, is its precise size.

I hold the book in the palms of my hands. The words on the sleeve smear under my fingers. The ink is this fresh, or else it is a problem with the printing. The colour blue, ocean blue, sky blue, blue lake, blue mountains, blue left behind, a blue departure. (LMW p38.)

There is blue on the tips of my fingers.

He, like her, loves beautiful shapes and beautiful colours.

She cannot recall his face, except for several, no, one or two, vague shapes. (LMW p10.)

I don't know what you look like. I know, though, that your eyes are dry. (LMW p53.) I know that she is a writer because reading does in fact dry the eyes as does thirst parch the lips. There will be no tears for now. There is a sadness, which lies, beyond crying.

You know what I look like. We have met. And yes, you are quite right, you do not know me nor I know you. But we do know (something) of each other. There is a place where our souls intersect, that point where we share things in common. But perhaps you did not recognise me, there, at the time. How were we to know?

Waiting. She is waiting at the bar for him. Longing mistaken for love?
The book is this slow.

Clinging to the moment - the moment which is prolonged as what might have been, of what never happened, as with dreams.

Beckoning, calling. Dreaming is prayer. (LMW p11.)

I am waiting for her as she is waiting for her. The pronouns slip.
She is also waiting for K, the truck-driver and...
Where she is I am (LMW p18.)

She is in love, loved by the one who let her go. If he was with her now I would not be here. (LMW pp 15-16.)
She still hasn't arrived. And I'm impatient, wanting to write anything, footsteps, a single footstep... (LMW p12.)
And it is this quiet.

And the reflection in the mirror which will not look back at me but through me in spite. And still, it is arrested by what it sees, in glimpses, from time to time. I barely recognise myself.

Brief encounters, missed encounters, encounters anticipated, encounters dreamt. With strangers, with unfamiliars, within strange lands. (Mistaken identities) misrecognition.

It's too hard, this being somewhere without language. (LMW p16.)
The writer has no language. (LMW p61.)
And there is comfort in the refrain.

The book unfolds as a film unfolds, as a screenplay unfolds, or rather, this book unfolds. I turn the pages.
This book is filmic. Some writers compose musically, paying attention to the tempo and sound.
Some writers compose cinematically, paying attention to the frame, the scene, and the events which transpire within them.
Some writers do both.

The book is this quick.

Writing the now with an urgency so she can leave, so she can return. Writing the now so one can forget and so this will not be forgotten. And each word, each moment is ever so slightly delayed. It is delayed nonetheless. It is remembered nonetheless.
The words themselves as fleeting as birds but the book, the book is solid.
I hold it in my hands. It is not quite a delicate creature.

And nine scores, within the within. Sonnets, written for her, translated later.

A book - written in movements.

I remember telling you once that I did not like footnotes, that I liked things to be kept in the open, on the surface, on the skin. I still like things to be kept in this fashion but I also now share an appreciation of the footnotes.

The book is slow and it is satisfying, while listening to jazz and sipping on beer. It is raining outside, now drizzling, intermittently. This day is humid - late Spring. I have opened the window and I can feel a cool breeze lightly caressing my skin.

Each page is punctuated by a call from another room in the house. "Uncle...!" He is not my blood but I tolerate him.
Someone is putting up with someone, bearing them, patiently, paying vague attention. (LMW p36.)

An hour has passed. If I can make it to page fifty before rolling another cigarette there will be only twenty more pages before me. I smoke when she smokes, I drink when she drinks, and I measure myself in this way. I am sitting in the front room, in my favourite chair. I am in the study. I am drinking whisky. She is also drinking whisky.

Here, in this book, in these words, I can (dis)entangle myself, carefully.

And I find this ironic - every time I go to write the letter w, I find myself writing the letter v. Her letter v, for instance... (LMW p38.)

To part two spaces, and keep them apart... (LMW p15.)

And I am surprised that it did not take long at all for the right moment to come, for this book to be read. I had honestly felt that this would be a book which may have waited months, perhaps even years, before its spine would be creased. I had honestly thought that it may have taken months, perhaps even years, before the corners of the pages would be soiled with the grease from my fingertips. It had barely been given a station on the bookshelf. And tonight it shall return there, closed for the very first time.

Her desk is tidy, the way she keeps things overnight. (LMW p32.)

Page 69, three words: I love you.
Page 69, two words: fear, want.

And soon, the moment I had been waiting for, hoping for.
His body sweet, her body sweet. He in her, her in him. (LMW p 69.)

And I want to see the pale pink rosebud he gave to her this night as proof of what I have been through. But I will never ask this of her.

It will end in tears. She says this as I say this, mounting, mouthing the words, as it will happen for all of us.

This is a story without ending. And there is a lesson in here - to keep I tight, to keep I small, to keep I simply, to keep I yours.

The suns rays now filter through the dispersing clouds. The book is warm... and everyone who saw her with him is silent. (LMW p17.)

The book, (not) forgotten by Mark Stephens. 22.11.1999

Mark Stephens is an Adelaide-based artist and writer.

"The Woman, Mistaken" can be purchased from the
Experimental Art Foundation bookshop, Adelaide.
Send email to Ken Bolton eaf@eaf.asn.au
or fax: +61 88363 3406