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In quest of love... too much love

Peter Goldsworthy is an interesting combination of a medico and a writer. SANGEETA BAROOAH PISHAROTY strikes up a conversation with this popular Australian literary figure.



The Maestro...Peter Goldsworthy in New Delhi. Photo: Sandeep Saxena.

PETER GOLDSWORTHY divides his every day life strictly into two halves. "A practising medico by sun-up and a writer by sun-down."

But how much of a writer sieves into the morning hours is to be experienced in Peter to be talked about but the doctor in him can very effortlessly be seen crystallizing on his pages. By the evening. The time that he picks his pen.

"I try to settle into a balance. It keeps me earthed," says the award-winning popular Australian author when asked about it. Though beginning with a degree in medicine from Adelaide University, Peter not only weaves into his tomes a bit of science and medicine in characterisation and conversation, but the settings remain his backyard. The air that he breathed, the life that he has experienced. The people whom he very well recognises. Be it his "Maestro" or "Three Dog Night", which has been released by Penguin in India this past week, the locale has always been his familiar ground. This 52-year-old went to school in Darwin and the much-talked-about character of his first novel "Maestro", Paul Crabbe's "coming of age" has its roots in Darwin. On "Three Dog Night", reviewers back home call it "Peter's love letter to Adelaide."

"I guess it is very important for a writer to experience things, to see places. Consciously or otherwise, it rubs on you. I am no different," the writer comments, striking up a conversation during his maiden visit to Delhi this month. "Who knows, I might add a bit of Delhi into my next roll-out," he throws up the possibility into the air.

Generally considered a realist, Peter, in "Three Dog Night" though tries to tackle the challenge of learning to die rather philosophically. He tends to look at the issue with the limitations of a scientific look-out conforming to death.

"I stressed on the universality of it," he adds. And to accentuate it, he employs lot of symbolism, all of it biblical. The novel's character Martin Blackman, a psychiatrist, is the proverbial Adam of the piece and Felix, his old friend and once a brilliant surgeon and now barred from practising, is the Serpent. Martin's wife and fellow psychiatrist, who with her husband returns to Adelaide after ten years in London, is the biblical Eve.

What follows is a spellbinding saga.

Literary exploits

Moving beyond medicine and novel, Peter has arguably excelled in other literary feats too. From short prose to poetry. With excellence. While three of his novels are in the process of being turned into films in Australia, Peter's poetry has won prestigious awards like Commonwealth Poetry Prize and Australian Bicentenary Literary Prize for Poetry and some of them have been set into music by names like Graeme Koehne, Richard Mills and Mathew Hindon. Also, his liberetti for a Mill's opera "Bativia" got him The Robert Helpmann Best Opera Award in his country.

"After completing my book `Honk If You Are Jesus' seven years after starting it, I took up writing for opera in the middle because, I wanted a kind of comic relief. The book was emotionally draining," says the author.

Though by nature, he admits to be "a slow writer."

Well, what is the harm when the wait for the crop is worth it!

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