Jobson reads ‘Ride the Tortoise’

RidetheTortoise Liesel Jobson writes with an intense, explicit sense of self-awareness that almost overpowers the reader who picks up her book – if not the author herself.                       

She admitted as much to the audience in a reading of her latest collection of short stories, Ride the Tortise, at the Wartenweiler Library’s Writing Center on Wednesday evening.

Asked why she had not yet ventured into the longer novel form, the author, musician, and photographer thought carefully before explaining the mental process of her writing:

“It’s not that I get bored [with longer writing], I get bewildered… You see, I come to writing as a poet, and you want one word that works in a number of dimensions. I find myself looking for the metaphors in ordinary situations.”

It is this quality, of bewildering self-awareness and self-reflection; of multiple and profound meaning; and the way in which it reveals itself in ordinary moments and encounters, that pervades the characters of Jobson’s stories as much as it provides the thematic thread of her prose.

The result, which one reviewer describes as “hypnotic honesty”, is a collection of

Author Liesel Jobson Photo by: Mfuneko Toyana

Author Liesel Jobson                  Photo by: Mfuneko Toyana

unconventional narratives, that rather than handing the reader the relief of sensible resolutions or “endings”, provides something more complicated.

Jobson does not merely zoom in on the complexities of being human- of being a subject who feels, remembers and dreams, creates and destroys.

What she does is go beyond the anthropological gaze that some (rightly or wrongly) associate with realism, to offer her reader the disjointed, jarring confrontations with the self; with the elusive inner being.

Jobson attributed her uncanny eye for detail to the time she spent learning about and practising photography.

“A camera offers a way to get into focus with yourself… [and] those little decisions you make as a photographer about what to capture and in what kind of light,” she said.

Ride the Tortise certainly brims with “living stills”.  Jobson’s keen observation and imagination combining like aperture and shutter speed to produce “per-second” frames of the unpredictable human experience.