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David Malouf and the Poetic: His Earlier Writings By Yvonne Smith

Chapter 1:  The Young Writer (1934–1959)
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David Malouf and the Poetic:

Chapter 1

The Young Writer (1934–1959)

Malouf’s abiding curiosity is an essential element in any narrative of his writing life: his work is, at heart, a way of wondering. Like the characters in his stories, especially the young, Malouf is spurred to write when he is particularly puzzled, when he is possessed by an intense desire to find out what in the world is going on. He wants to know, believing from his own experience that “writers are people who retain that same kind of puzzled attentiveness to the world around them that children have” (Throsby 239). In the house in which he grew up, a traditional single-level Queensland weatherboard, most doors were left open – even the stained cedar front door which during the day was stopped by a large ornamental frog (12ES 22). His writing—the home space of his creativity—resists closure too; he disdains shutting out possibilities. The present moment is always open to discovery—to lingering on a verandah-like space that transits from exterior to interior, peering through openings that make accessible what seems hidden to the inquisitive eye and ear. His characters often glance sideways to catch a quick glimpse of a telling detail or listen quietly for the unspoken intentions that push against the surface of conversations. And those who are endlessly curious are happy when on the move, walking, observing, wondering, but most