writing Puberty Blues was just the beginning


One of many issues Gabrielle all the time failed to flee was the legacy of Puberty Blues. This astonishingly astute novel about teenage boredom and the horrific sexism of Seventies surfie tradition was printed in 1979 when she was simply 20 years outdated. It established each authors’ reputations perpetually however for Gabrielle it was solely the beginning of her profession as a author, not the yardstick towards which all else must be measured. It’s now a basic of teenage fiction – it was the primary Australian novel written by youngsters for youngsters – and has been rediscovered by subsequent generations, and tailored to movie and tv.

The author’s writing demonstrated a commitment to truth, no matter how painful.

The creator’s writing demonstrated a dedication to reality, regardless of how painful.

There would by no means be any escaping Puberty Blues, and nor ought to there be. However, as an creator, I may all the time perceive her want to be remembered for her subsequent books quite than that first youthful one.

For the final twenty-plus years it was one other literary connection, this time with James Joyce, that dominated Gabrielle’s life and, upon reflection, made full sense. She had first travelled to Eire within the Nineteen Eighties the place she instinctively felt at dwelling amongst Irish tradition and society, amongst pub singing, storytelling and poetry, among the many entire craic. Discovering that her father’s household have been initially Irish due to this fact made sense to her.

So did her conversion to Catholicism, which was solely ostensibly sudden – her upbringing was emphatically atheist – however in truth was logical given her deep love of formality and custom coupled with a real non secular quest. As she as soon as stated to me, it simply made sense on the time to be a Catholic in a Catholic nation.

Gabrielle revisited Eire a number of instances and when in her forties commenced studying Joyce’s most well-known work, Ulysses, her relationship with that nation turned richer and deeper. Ending Ulysses solely led to the extra daunting Finnegans Wake however in a way, this was the e-book she was all the time destined to learn. You can even say it was the e-book written for her, and it was one she by no means stopped studying. For 17 years she was a member of a Finnegans Wake studying group in Sydney, and a member of one other in Canberra.

Writing nine books in all, Gabrielle has essentially bequeathed her readers one long extended autobiography.

Writing 9 books in all, Gabrielle has primarily bequeathed her readers one lengthy prolonged autobiography.Credit score: Domino Postiglione

Studying novels is usually considered an escape from the self however within the case of Finnegans Wake, this was an escape into the self. Maybe it was Gabrielle’s most sustained and profitable escape; actually, it was her longest literary journey. On this dense, round ‘encyclopaedic’ novel, she recognised and responded to the wit, music, humour, irreverence, historical past, tune, language, faith, and way more that had all the time featured in her life. And, vitally, she learn it aloud, in firm. As she defined in a 2015 essay, the e-book was a logical connection again to her faculty playground singing of the ditty Michael Finnegan, and to her ‘fondness for musical rounds, canons and all types of contrapuntal music’.

The book is still popular today.

The e-book remains to be well-liked at present.Credit score:

Gabrielle returned to formal schooling in 1997, finishing a grasp’s diploma in English on the Australian Catholic College when she was 40, adopted by a doctorate of artistic arts at Western Sydney College, accomplished in 2006. Within the final 20 years of her life, she labored on the College of Know-how Sydney the place oddly – but one way or the other not – we discovered ourselves each educating artistic writing. She left the college in 2020 however continued mentoring and educating college students in a personal capability. As a trainer, she was rigorous, inspiring and demanding; as one former pupil stated lately she emphasised the ‘must take my writing significantly, and I’m very grateful for that’.

Gabrielle additionally contributed to the skilled writing world, as a committee member of the Australian Society of Authors within the Nineties, and to literary tradition close to and much, most importantly in a protracted and intimate affiliation with annual Bloomsday occasions in Sydney. She was a member of the Joyce-inspired musical group the Prankqueans, mockingly returning to performing after greater than 40 years.

Writing 9 books in all, Gabrielle has primarily bequeathed her readers one lengthy prolonged autobiography, which not solely demonstrates look at a life with grace in addition to candour, but additionally how the style of life-writing could also be continuously refreshed. Her final publication was Solely Happiness Right here, a memoir of Elizabeth von Arnim whose destiny – to be forgotten after nice success – was one Gabrielle feared was potential for herself.


A late-life ardour for bookbinding was the pure fruits of her literary actions: if one wrote books then one may additionally make them. In a gesture in the direction of minimalism she additionally scaled down her personal writing. Her ultimate e-book on the mighty and verbose creator who captured her coronary heart and thoughts is a brief research, James Joyce: a life. Accomplished earlier than her loss of life, it will likely be printed in August this 12 months.

Other than studying and writing, books and bookbinding, Gabrielle’s pursuits, abilities and passions have been many: she was a meticulous knitter, a loyal gardener and a dedicated walker. She appreciated elegant afternoon teas and liked chilly climates, particularly locations just like the Blue Mountains. Her loud ringing chortle was out of all proportion to her tiny body, on which she wore garments that have been impeccably tailor-made. A jar of her rose petal jam, comprised of her personal backyard roses, is beside me as I write. It’s referred to as, naturally, Jams Joyce.

Lastly, household was all the things. Whether or not fractured or useful, household all the time nourished her life and impressed her writing. Gabrielle Carey is survived by her daughter Bridgette, her son Jimmy, and her grandson Axel.

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