A review of ‘Window Gods’ by Sally Morrison
December 5, 2014 — 23:16

Author: Dorothy Johnston  Category: Australian literature fiction writing literary fashions  Comments: 5




My review of Window Gods was published in the Fairfax press today. Though on the surface, and at the start, it appears to be a straightforward ‘novel of manners’, Window Gods turns out to be a surprising, many-layered book.

There’s a lot about art and artists – visual, literary, botanical – here’s a quote that has stayed with me and that I didn’t have the space to include in my review:

‘…the hypothesis with which the artist is stuck is the lifelong nub against which talent writhes like a cat possessed. You have to stick with the nub despite fashion and fortune – or never produce a body of work. Too bad if your idea is bad or infantile, or proves to be a cul de sac or something that happens before its time. Art is a never-ending fascination with perception. It’s facile to say all people are artists; artists are those who embrace the nub and never give it up.’


  • True words, Dorothy. Very much look forward to reading Sally’s book. Just read one by John Updike that Margaret gave me – Seek My Face – which was based on the Abstract Expressionists and I found fascinating.

    December 6, 2014 — 2:37
  • Hi Dorothy, I read your review this morning and as always it made me want to read the book. This is an intriguing quote. I’m not sure I like the image of writhing against the nub like a cat possessed but I do like the “fascination with perception”. They aren’t the same thing, to my mind, so I feel a bit at sea as to the key image.

    December 6, 2014 — 7:09
  • Thanks for your comments, Sara and Joan. Sara – I think you would find ‘Window Gods’ very much up your street. I’d be interested in how you, as a painter, view Morrison’s insights into art. It’s hard to describe the visual arts in words, but Morrison does pretty well.
    And Joan – yes, it’s not a comfortable image of the creative process, or the need to stick to one’s convictions, even if this means turning one’s back on fashions and the market. But then, why should such a process or activity be comfortable? I’m reminded again of the New Yorker article you refer to on your blog. It’s possible that animal images might come naturally to mind when searching for ways to depict genuine creativity – one I’ve always remembered is Margaret Atwood’s ‘wrestling a greased pig in the dark’.

    December 7, 2014 — 1:53
  • This sounds like a really interesting book! It kind of reminds me of Ali Smith’s How to Be Both. Have you read that one? It talks a lot about art and perceptions and how it is the artist’s job to look and see things no one else does.

    March 4, 2015 — 16:42
  • Thanks for your comment, Stefanie.
    No, I haven’t read ‘How to Be Both’. I’ll look out for it. It sounds a bit of a tall order for the artist!

    March 5, 2015 — 1:46
  • Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *