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Sorcerer's Apprenticeship

In the Same Room


From 'The Sorcerer's Apprenticeship' Interview of Owen Marshall 1995

"I was aware of an episodic quality in my work; aware that what vision I possessed suited the compression of the tableau rather than narrative drive and plot. I was conscious that my most intense reading experiences were largely from the short story genre, that its poetic affinities attracted me, and I was not prepared to risk again the investment of time that a novel means for a part-time writer. I decided to write short stories and to follow my own inclination and judgement in their language and theme. Through the mid 70s I stuck to my last, sending pieces to such publications as Landfall, the Listener, and Argosy."


From 'In the Same Room' Interview of Owen Marshall 1991

"I think a story like 'Prince Valiant' arises from the common theme of alienation in New Zealand literature, really, that we're aware that within groups there are often people who are held in that group purely by the social functioning, in other words their job. They have a relationship with this person or that person purely because they are in a functional relationship with them. They work with them, or for them, or they are defined in terms of their employment, but their emotional allegiance and their personality ties lie elsewhere. So he's one of the shearing gang, on the other hand he is really a person who in a sense doesn't belong there.

(Neddy) has suffered from a family situation and conditioning, and really he's seeking the life that matters to him outside those people that he happens to find himself among'.. I don't think he is necessarily unhappy, but I think that his personality has been curtailed to some extent, if you like, by the experiences that he's had. There's talk of the violence of his father towards his mother and so on, so I think emotionally, if you like, he's become extremely self-sufficient, but also somewhat stunted, perhaps. He doesn't consider himself very important. He doesn't consider other people very important. He doesn't easily make contact, he doesn't draw sustenance from relationships with other people around him, and he is not aware of the deficiency, is he?

Language has always been an important element for me and I'm always attracted to those stories which have the greatest purity of language, for the want of some better way of expressing it. It doesn't seem to me that the themes of stories in themselves deserve praise or blame. It's the revelation of them."

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