Monday, August 6, 2007

student days

My husband brought home Alice Garner's the student chronicles (The Miegunyah Press). I was a student at Melbourne University at about the same time, although I was there so briefly as to be like a mayfly rather than a perpetual student.

I was hoping that Garner would evoke for me the feeling of the plane tree leaves littering the brick pathways, the odd smell peculiar to the Baillieu Library, the apricot smoothies from the refectory that were so medicinal on hung-over mornings and the terrible divide between the students who felt entitled to be there, and the students who didn't .

But that was my experience of Melbourne University, not Alice Garner's. Hers was more about feeling guilty because her life was easier than other students. Her parents paid her way, and she earned good money as an actor. She also was strong academically, and progressed in a fairly orderly fashion to an honours degree and PhD.

But that wasn't what bothered me about the book. What bothered me was that it made university life seem so utterly boring that I couldn't manage to finish reading the tasteful little thing. I'm not sure how a person can write a book about their late teens and early twenties that seems almost entirely lacking in emotion, but there it is.

(You can read an extract from the book, where she does talk about the diverse attractions of the library, though, so you can see that I am being rather burdened by my own bitter mythology, rather than fairly and honestly evaluating Garner's. I may be emotional, unfair and biased, but I hope I am honest about it).

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