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I confess that I came to this book only after seeing Jane Campion s brilliant film adaptation of Janet Frame s autobiographies And, despite telling essentially the same story, the book and the film feel like wildly different things That s the nature of an adaptation, of course and I m not suggesting that Campion is somehow less faithful to her source material than other directors might be It s just that Campion s film is perhaps masterful, finely crafted Which does not take anything at all away from Frame She s up to other things here Great things She is taking shadows and echoes and demons and turning them into something else, something bright and nourishing and warm This book isn t a page turner It isn t for everyone But, if you re a writer, it s well worth your while And then some. #DOWNLOAD á An Angel at my Table ⛓ Contains To The Is Land, An Angel At My Table, The Envoy From Mirror CityNew Zealand S Preeminent Writer Janet Frame Brings The Skill Of An Extraordinary Novelist And Poet To These Vivid And Haunting Recollections, Gathered Here For The First Time In A Single Volume From A Childhood And Adolescence Spent In A Poor But Intellectually Intense Railway Family, Through Life As A Student And Years Of Incarceration In Mental Hospitals, Eventually Followed By Her Entry Into The Saving World Of Writers And The Mirror City That Sustains Them, We Are Given Not Only A Record Of The Events Of A Life, But Also The Transformation Of Ordinary Facts And Ideas Into A Shining Palace Of Mirrors Frame S Journey Of Self Discovery, From New Zealand To London, Paris, And Barcelona, And Then Home Again, Is A Heartfelt And Courageous Account Of A Writer S Beginnings As Well As One Woman S Personal Struggle To Survive So.Is it blasphemy to say that I prefer her nonfiction to her fiction Her fiction was dense, poetic, experimental all of which I fully appreciate.Her autobiography is just her truth, which I absolutely love This resonated so much with me It s one of those books that says exactly what I would want to say to the world if I d had the presence of mind to say it first.She was diagnosed with schizophrenia but wasn t schizophrenic She was autistic if ever a woman was.So If you d like to hear a literary genius describe what that s like, what it s really like, I recommend this series.I also love and recommend the film of the same name. Extra ordinary life and writing style She goes from a very realistic and straight on language to the most poetic descibtions of ordinary thing that I have ever read Some strophes needs to be read twice or trice to even comprehend and absorb A book to read for all Equal reading event of 2018 for me, along with a Gerald Murnane bender early in the year, though I d be hard pressed to say why For one thing my wife joined in the reading, at first following and later eclipsing me while I took a short detour through a library book that was soon due She loved it, though partly because, as she kept saying, Frame reminded her of me And it s true Frame seemed familiar, but like a sister than an alternate self I left her Frame just as she arrived in London, had her first date aged early thirties with someone she met on a bus, and spent a night at a writers commune, whose inhabitants were impressed she had a book out, even if as she assured them it was only published in New Zealand I think I had to read that far, just to make sure she d be all right And when I picked it up again it was pleasure, sweet relief She makes it to Ibiza, has a lover, keeps on publishing Her newfound independence is tangible it grows and grows And strange to say, I envied her, after all she d been through I envied her self reliance her self centredness her certainty of what she should, could and must do It s a hard thing, I guess, to describe the writing life Hard to make clear what s at stake But Frame excels at it And somewhere half or two thirds of the way through this epic I realised it s about stubbornness, sheer force of will If eight years in mental hospitals and 200 ECT treatments was the only way to break free from the expectations of family and society, so be it And the remarkable thing there is no bitterness Or maybe a little, in her criticism of her New Zealand mental health care though not than a handful of times in those eight years did a doctor talk directly to her, once the spurious label schizophrenic was affixed it spoke for itself , but overall her gratitude to the good and kind doctors in her life wins out Seven of her novels were dedicated to a psychiatrist in England who encouraged her to write, who obtained for her a National Insurance stipend so that she could do so in peace, and her voluntary hospitalisation in London was the opposite of her New Zealand experience a reversal, a chance to set the record straight I understand upon her eventual return to New Zealand Frame battled to keep her own story ie as it appeared in the press, in the work of critics from overwhelming her fiction The fact is, that story is one of the all time great artist s stories of overcoming odds, of coming from out of nowhere, of doing exactly what deep down she knew she must do But no one could tell it like she does It seems so effortless it must have been anything but One of the wonders of the world, Patrick White called it I can see what he means. Wonderful book by an exceptional New Zealand writer This is the second volume in a trilogy of autobiographies by New Zealand writer Janet Frame, covering about ten years in the 1940s between the time she leaves school and sets off for London Her description of surviving eight years spent in mental institutions as a result of being mistakenly diagnosed with schizophrenia, is horrifying, but also compelling I love Janet Frame s novels her writing is beautiful, complex, and she just seems to turn language inside out From that point of view alone it is fascinating to read the autobiography to learn about the experiences that formed such a unique perspective, but even if you are not familiar with her other work, the story of her life alone is a fascinating one. She was ugly She tried to kill herself Several times she mentioned her rotting teeth, implying the inferiority complex she much have developed because of it, her wild shock of curly hair which almost always elicited the suggestion from others to have it straightened, her lack of fashionable clothes At one dance party she attended no one had asked her to dance so she went home early, by herself, then pretended the next day that she had a blast the night previous.Her family was poor and she had suffered the deaths of two of her siblings Mistakenly diagnosed as schizophrenic, at that time when very little was known about mental illnesses she was born in 1924 in Dunedin, New Zealand , she spent some eight years in and out of mental institutions Earlier she had left her hometown for the city to study and become a teacher but this didn t pan out And so there she was, this poor miserable young woman physically unattractive, with rotting teeth later extracted so now with dentures , most likely with halitosis, a failure in her intended career, carrying the stigma of being a madwoman, a virgin and probably single for life.Yet she had made me adore her This is the second of her three volume autobiography I haven t read the first and the third, but this one was enough for me to see the inner beauty of this writer who, as she draws you into her pain, longings and dreams could make you whisper through the pages, as if she could hear you, no, no, no, you are not ugly You are special, truly beautiful, and you weave your words like fragrant garlands from heavenly gardens though you may have written them under the most abject conditions while you worked as a housemaid, waitress and hotel chambermaid I imagine you blushing now, Janet Frame Jean But didn t you yourself write it here, after reading one of Tolstoy s masterpieces There is a freedom born from the acknowledgement of greatness in literature, as if one gave away what one desired to keep, and in giving, there is a new space cleared for growth, an onrush of a new season beneath a secret sun Acknowledging any great work of art is like being in love one walks on air any decline, destruction, death are within, not in the beloved it is a falling in love with immortality, a freedom, a flight in paradise. Temporary masks, I knew, had their place everyone was wearing them, they were the human rage but not masks cemented in place until the wearer could not breathe and was eventually suffocated.She looked how everyone saw her Sometime after reading Janet Frame s first autobiography To the Is Land late 2012 I watched some of the 1990s film adaptation by Jane Campion I stopped watching it into the part from An Angel at my Table Janet, Jean to her family, looked like everyone saw her I couldn t hear the inside of her head The inside humming couldn t be hummed by me as she looks like she doesn t want you to notice her, just in case she isn t looking how she is supposed to look If there is anything I missed the most about Frame it was that she talked to her reader as if they were an invisible friend I hoped she wouldn t look at me here because I have had the horrible feeling that none of it would have happened to her if she had been pretty She looked like Janet Frame with the shock of red hair, a love me smile, forgive me fading smile The music bothered me It felt quaint and it narrated outside of the body New Zealand, sheep and sweaters It wasn t like when you have a good song that lasts long enough inside of your head The good This could be the soundtrack to my life head music feeling You don t wear a forgive smile if you feel like this, while it lasts It was cutesy and this is a movie about the past The outside kind of ugly little girl, missing the inside oozing center of hope because you hug yourself when you hate your ugly self The Janet that pretends she doesn t need to eat much because she likes the idea of herself as not a bother and then later sneaks chocolate into her room all the days because she can t admit that she actually has a pretty big appetite The Janet that would look greedy thinking longingly of the chocolate bars later in her room She s in the world that feels hungry and wants Janet to be the quiet girl who doesn t need anything to eat When she fills in the end of her teaching college autobiography paper about her suicide attempt She hated school and teaching eats her half alive It isn t wrong when she is the Janet that looks as if she doesn t know what is going to happen to her when she boasts to the inquisitive professor that the aspirin went down easily with water I know from elsewhere not from the book or the film that the first three weeks turn into eight years of mental hospitals She wanted to impress the doctors She must have looked like something that didn t fit and they had some place to send people who didn t fit I know she must have looked like someone you d want to shake to not be so pathetic and please shut your mouth Don t tell these doctors anything that would make them think you belong in the looney bin Frame writes about her long and open letters to the doctor about her apparently schizophrenic symptoms of masturbation I hear the outside voice in the book that knows she stopped writing to him when he gets married because she felt left out and must now know it was a sickening trap all along If you saw her she d just look silly Would he look lofty, safe with a degree Not to me, not in any world.There s a moment between hospital stays when the film Janet looks exactly like Janet must have looked when she tells her sister she is going to be a writer There s a hopeful look pinned to her chest It is a badge and it is a secret wish Janet Frame sounds like this a lot in An Angel at my Table Writing saved her life If she had not won a literary prize a new doctor from Scotland would not have thought to save her from the scheduled lobotomy Stories were her life, a place to fit She looks like a pompous idiot, like a little girl who dreams of rainbows and princes in the uninteresting Barbie doll variety She probably talked about writing than she actually did any writing most days some days she types a meaningless sentence over and over to appear as if she is writing She looks like the person who it is everything to and where did it take her I know from her other books It was beautiful, there, and I saw her.I don t like the film Janet Frame because she is someone I would have pity for in the outside world I like her, yet I want her to get a backbone because I m drowning some days too I would have to give her the dignity on my own if I saw her in the hospital to have her teeth removed I know that Janet is terrified of the dentist If I see her I don t forget that her teeth hurt because I can see them if she ever smiles I can see them if she is afraid to smile I feel the reason for the smile, bad teeth be damned, in her words There s a Janet Frame in her words that I missed desperately when watching her The inner voice that stepped outside when she is ridiculous and face covered with chocolate I d love her anyway but this way she gets to love herself That s better and worth than coming from me because it is so hard to make that all of the time The slight humorous twist to the smile that could be rueful when she is also conscious of how she must look to everyone else I want that Janet Frame Because you can t get that part of another person any other way An Angel at my Table didn t have that Janet Frame I was a jerk and was mad at the film for what the book didn t have Frame sells her self esteem up the purple river of flowers She acknowledges the loss of an I from her time in the asylums Whenever she holds onto a rejection for her writing, or a successful publication of a poem What I felt was the loss of her self esteem This writer guy says this, don t write this, read this The other waitresses say wear this makeup, this dress It is so painful to read this I see the Janet Frame that her family doesn t know what to do with They look like this is a crazy person She writes about the relief when she pretends that it was a child s vacation I know what she is doing and I miss so much when she gave herself something else in her fiction Faces in the Water and Owls Do Cry I really miss it I experienced a feeling of nowhereness and nothingness as if I had never existed, or, if I had, I was now erased from the earth I had somehow fallen into a crevice in time and many of these feelings were a result of my being in touch with no one, and of having no one to talk to from within I was my usual smiling self, smiling, flashing my bulky new false teeth, and talking about this and that and daily matters I wrote my poems, showing them to no one A member of my family had found and read a story I wrote and voiced the strong opinion that I would never be a writer Sometimes when I began to say what I really felt, using a simile or metaphor, an image, I saw the embarrassment in my listener s eyes here was the mad person speaking There s a third part of the autobiography The Envoy from the Mirror City I have a bad feeling it is called this like when she sends a poem about mirrors and fractured images in response to a hospital doctor have they refuse financial assistance when she is released The imagery chosen for its associations with schizophrenics I m afraid to read it if she is who they see her as and not as herself In the end of part two she is following behind others, still afraid of her own voice It kills me When she writes about how other writers don t have to prove that their fiction isn t autobiographical with the absence of lobotomy scars I wanted to tell her that that wasn t the worst that they did to her It is when she says in the beginning of the book that she admires the little worlds the other patients built for themselves in the rules It is that she is afraid of ever getting out of them with anyone, not that people look at her like she is crazy It isn t that she doesn t open her mouth for herself it is that she doesn t miss that she doesn t I have a feeling that the fictional heroine of Faces in the Water who stands up to the nurses is where Frame got to be brave If you are so afraid of what other people look like when they are looking at you that you cannot make an expression That s what Janet Frame looks like in An Angel at My Table I don t like that look at all It breaks my heart What I loved about her so much in Faces in the Water is that she gave to other people by wanting to see something good when she looked at them, not the worst It felt like she was giving that to herself too by doing that That s why so much of this book is about being a writer The identity part of being a writer was too damned important I didn t like that about this book at all Because being a writer was what she thought would make her look good to someone else I still haven t finished watching the film I want to have an intimate inner voice talking to me I don t want to feel lonely watching someone else being lonely and it is up to me to be good and just know that there s something real and better to it I have to, though I m not good enough today.