Actually, I owe them both much more than that-- but what could be more dear than my burnished, glowing cello with its resonant voice, made in Romania of wood from the Carpathian mountains? Two years ago at about this time I had completed an interview with one of our--and Australia's-- finest novelists, Janette Turner Hospital, and was working with the Georgia Review's editor, Stephen Corey, on the final edits before its publication, along with my essay on her fiction. I had long been inspired by Janette's work, combining as it does her brilliant sense of narrative, her unflinching social conscience, and an Australian-accented, lyrical prose that Virginia Woolf would have appreciated. I had used her short story collection Dislocations many times as a text for my fiction writing classes. But it had taken years to convince her to do an interview, and to find the right opportunity for both the interview and the essay I had wanted to write about her work. Thanks to the Georgia Review, that opportunity had come.
Working with Stephen reminded me of a treasured time, many years ago now, when the great editor Stan Lindberg had accepted my story "The Very Pineapple," and was working on the final edits with me, with that same meticulous care The Georgia Review is noted for, and that Stephen Corey has continued. After its publication, "The Very Pineapple" was chosen for the 1991 O. Henry Awards collection, so my debt to the Georgia Review is a pretty big one.
When I received my check for "Border Crossings: The Fiction of Janette Turner Hospital" and "Readers on the Hook: an Interview with Janette Turner Hospital"--which had added up to quite a few pages-- it was enough for half the cost of the modest but beautiful cello I'd been longing for, after six months of lessons with a rented one. The wonderful cellist David Gibson had been kind enough to encourage me in my yearning to try the cello-- and even had the patience to be my teacher. After six months with a rental instrument, I'd been looking at cellos, but could hardly justify the cost-- until that check arrived from Georgia Review.
So I gave myself a matching grant!-- and thanks to Janette and GR, my burnished auburn Romanian cello came to live at Hummingbird House. Each time I pick it up to practice, I can't believe my good luck, to own this beautiful instrument with its glowing curves, with such music hidden inside it--if only I can learn to coax it out.
Sometimes people ask me whether I've given my cello a name. I've been thinking of naming her Georgia. What do you think?
Here's a link to "Border Crossings," my essay about Janette in the Fall 2015 issue of Georgia Review:
http://garev.uga.edu/walker.html --and to Janette's own website, featuring the cover of the forthcoming American edition of her amazing novel, The Claimant: www.janetteturnerhospital.com . Don't miss it!