Spoiler alert ;- But the author's first full-length novel, Steeplechase, is an absolute gem that I loved reading. Art is central to your writings — Triptych is an erotic reimagining of famous artworks by Rubens and Horkusai — but painting is key to Steeplechase also. And then Emily calls, inviting Bec to visit her in China. Conversational exchanges are convincing, creating high-resolution snapshots of scene and people. It would mean a risk of hurt; even damage. Emily, famous worldwide for her paintings and also for her madness, lives in Beijing - but that's not why they haven't spoken for so long. And what a lovely rendition of the bumbling, insecure little sister, so desperately seeking affection.
Which would mean revisiting the sinister games and shared delusions of their strange, the terrible damage of their locked-in childhood. It haunts the present, but is subjective and penetrable. Steeplechase is both beautifully written and a page-turner that provides insight into madness and art. There are great things about this book. A Gothic tale stretching from Brisbane to Beijing, its story of art, sisters, and madness is both creepy and enthralling, with a lead character that readers will instantly relate to.
Which would mean revisiting the sinister games and shared delusions of their strange, locked-in childhood. I should have used her name but it is all I can think of. My sister just called me and I spoke to her. Krissy Kneen is a bookseller and writer in Brisbane. I know I should have used her name but it is all I can think of in this moment. Now she wants Bec to come to and see her. I recognized parts of the narrative and this is why: in 2010 Kneen was runner up in the Josephine Ulrick Literature Prize with the short story Steeple Chase.
I find the whole concept of it cruel: it involves deliberately placing hazardous objects in the course and expecting the horse and rider to compete at speed over the jumps. This is the same as using the minus symbol. And now she wants Bec to come to China for the opening of her new show. The weight and shape of it is amazing. I found the characters weren't fleshed out enough and the sisters' early life somewhat vague and unbelievable. The principal themes of artistic genius, madness, and self-realisation are beautifully conveyed through metaphors of restoration and forgery.
What draws you to examine these themes in your writing? Then I realised there was very little joy or lightness in the book so far. Steeplechase is a departure for Kneen, who is best known for her erotic writing. But I don't like it. It is heavy with constantly seeping liquid: dripping sweat, humidity, rain, sexual fluids, mud, oils, paint, faeces, urine, ash and blood. This is writing that displays incredible emotional depth. As the story alternates between the past and the present, the reader slowly learns more about the sisters. Emily, famous worldwide for her paintings, and also for her schizophrenia, lives in Beijing.
Emily, famous worldwide for her paintings, and also for her schizophrenia, lives in Beijing. The writing is beautiful, the subject matter both fascinating and disturbing, and if this isn't nominated for every writing award possible in Australia, I might declare shenanigans. Krissy Kneen is an author who writes with generosity and truth. Conversational exchanges are convincing, creating high-resolution snapshots of scene and people. It is never really said if they are members of an odd religion or why they are so isolated.
When she receives a call from Emily after a hiatus of twenty-three years, she is undecided if she wants to take up her sister's offer to attend her latest show in Beijing. I haven't even heard word of her next book. This is writing that displays incredible emotional depth. Bec Reich is a bundle of anxieties and her sexuality reflects this. The story swaps between the current and the past. Everyone else I've talked to about it says that they thought the relationships and interactions were very real. No spoilers but at the end, I wanted to cheer for Bec now one of my favour literary characters and this incredible book.
The question of what is reality and what are delusions is at the heart of this. I kept a postcard of it near my desk while I was writing. Strong characters, beautifully drawn, compelling plot, darkly sensual. Krissy Kneen is an author who writes with generosity and truth. The premise behind steeplechasing is that the obstacles make the horse demonstrate agility, power, intelligence, and bravery.
I've read quite a few erotic memoirs in the past year, but Krissy Kneen's Affection stands above them all with its quality writing, sense of humour, and lack of glamorisation. Steeplechase is marketed as a departure in your oeuvre — your first novel and first non-erotic work. Maybe if Bec had owned up to the anger she had for her sister, she wouldn't have regressed and begun to relive the same situations from her childhood. Krissy Kneen is a bookseller and writer in Brisbane. But like hell am I going to stop buying and reading Krissy Kneen's novels. And most of all, a voice that's so easy to connect with and relate to.