Up on the Roof by P. K. PageUp on the Roof by P. K. Page

Up on the Roof

byP. K. Page

Paperback | March 1, 2007

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The nature of truth in art, and most particularly in fiction, is reconsidered in the (imagined) autobiography of an Australian girl from Waggawagga who assembles pinion feathers from pigeons to create dioramas mounted behind glass and framed by old newsprint; a waif from the outback for whom the very notion of the cobblestones on St Mark's Square in Venice is both olfactory, and repugnant. Then Michelangelo himself takes a cameo turn after dark, a silhouette faintly circumscribed under the light of the Southern Cross.

One imagines the night sky above Alice Springs is very black.

It is not difficult to divine the source of these eleven short fictions. P. K. Page accompanied her husband Arthur Irwin to the Antipodes when he served as High Commissioner to Australia in the 1950s. Some of this same material appears in P. K. Page's own autobiography in verse Hand Luggage (PQL 2006), but it isn't so much where these stories come from that captures our interest and snares it in thrall, as it is where the fictions go to.

The challenges of the diplomatic service exercised in the Southern Hemisphere were well documented by P. K. Page in her Brazilian Journal (1987), but that work was non-fiction, published by the late and much-lamented house of Lester and Orpen, Dennys. Up on the Roof is fiction, which is not to say that it is any less true, or more so. Here a female writer discovers that Genghis Khan and Barbie share a predilection for intricately-woven brocade, only to be thwarted in her journalistic endeavour by the guile of a conspiratorial domestic with attitude, fallen arches and an aversion to household appliances which complements perfectly her inability to consider orthotics or the ministrations of a podiatrist.

P. K. Page wrote some of the best poems published in Canada over the last five decades. In addition to winning the Governor General's award for poetry in 1957, she was appointed a Companion of the Order of Canada in 1999. She was the author of more than a dozen books, including ten volumes of poetry, a novel, selected short stories, ei...
Title:Up on the RoofFormat:PaperbackDimensions:144 pages, 8.78 × 5.6 × 0.49 inPublished:March 1, 2007Publisher:Porcupine's QuillLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0889842876

ISBN - 13:9780889842878

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From the Author

Where do my stories come from? First, from a voice. In `Ex Libris' I was given the voice of Ivor and from there on it was plain sailing. Is that true? Not completely, I suppose, because every time I had to stop -- to get a meal, to go out -- I couldn't help wondering if the voice would be there when I began again. I was not Daedalus. There was no thread in my head to lead me on. Only the voice. The same is true of `Up on the Roof'. Once I had the voice, I had the story. Only that voice knew that story, so if I lost the voice I lost it all. The same can roughly be said of all the others. The reason I hedge a bit here is because sometimes another element is there too: a vestige of plot or colour. But only a vestige. Very thin ice that would not bear my weight. I began writing stories in my twenties. They were usually bizarre: the man whose leg came through the ceiling, the child who fell from a steeple, etc. Then I stopped for some years. When I began again the stories were still bizarre. What has become clear to me is that the closer the stories come to autobiography, the more impossible they are to write. I write out of the imagination. Facts clip my wings. And without a voice, I have no voice. I am mute.

Editorial Reviews

`Up on the Roof contains fiction pieces of a variety of lengths, some as short as a few pages, others full-length stories. By turns tart and contemplative, Page's prose fiction is, like her poetry, fascinated with derivations of perspective, and her use of narrative voice gives her plenty of opportunity to explore a particular penchant for plotting characters undergoing transformation.'