Saturday, January 22, 2011

Megan Stack on Adrenaline

I've tried to hone some small skill as a writer through my blog.  Sometimes I read back over my turns of phrase and wince. Sometimes, I grant myself some small satisfaction. Sometimes.

Rarely, however, have I been completely arrested, I mean stopped dead in my tracks, by a passage in someone's writing. I was listening to an ABC Radio podcast from the Byron Bay writer's festival yesterday (god I sound like a snob) and something really, really grabbed me.
To appreciate it, you only need this context; Megan Stack is a journalist who has covered conflict zones (22 countries) for nine years. In this interview she relates the emotional ups and downs of facing intense war zones and real dangers, and then trying to acclimatise to the pedestrian life back home on furlough. She's written a book, and this passage is about being addicted to adrenaline. The interviewer reads this passage:
"Adrenaline is the strongest drug when it floods your veins, the world smears around you in a carousel spin. Except that each detail is crisp and hard, the colours are not negotiable, the hardness of shadow and sunlight cuts you, but they feel good and real and you keep on standing. Words drift for hours and days on the surface of your thoughts, gathering like algae. Ever since the mass funeral I've had these words in my head. Killing the dead, killing the dead. People look like ancient animals, lurching over some primordial land. A single bird's cry is clean and hard enough to carve your skin. This is why people get addicted. When adrenaline really gets going, you can't get sick, you don't need sleep and you feel you can do anything. I know when this is over it'll be like dying."
The audience then breaks into sustained applause.
Wow... Just, wow.
 I'm decidedly not an adrenaline junkie; this passage doesn't describe me. But isn't that powerful writing? I know nothing of this journalist, or her book, Every Man in this Village is a Liar. I'm pretty sure I would disagree with Megan's politics, but I'm in awe of her prose.

1 comment:

Michael Sutcliffe said...

New look is much nicer.