The Museum of Words
Museum of Words by Georgia Blain
When Georgia Blain passed away at the end of 2016 from an aggressive brain tumour, she bestowed us with a legacy of beautiful words—novels, short stories, essays, a memoir—and this, not a dying memoir, but a celebration of life, words and writing. At the height of illness, turning to what she knew best—writing—Georgia documents her final thoughts/reflections/days in prose that is both utterly devastating and perfect. Molly
In late 2015, Georgia Blain was diagnosed with a tumour sitting right in the language centre of her brain. Prior to this, Georgia's only warning had been a niggling sense that her speech was slightly awry. She ignored it, and on a bright spring day, as she was mowing the lawn, she collapsed on a bed of blossoms, blood frothing at her mouth.
Waking up to find herself in the back of an ambulance being rushed to hospital, she tries to answer questions, but is unable to speak. After the shock of a bleak prognosis and a long, gruelling treatment schedule, she immediately turns to writing to rebuild her language and herself.
At the same time, her mother, Anne Deveson, moves into a nursing home with Alzheimer's; weeks earlier, her best friend and mentor had been diagnosed with the same brain tumour. All three of them are writers, with language at the core of their being.
The Museum of Wordsis a meditation on writing, reading, first words and last words, picking up thread after thread as it builds on each story to become a much larger narrative. This idiosyncratic and deeply personal memoir is a writer's take on how language shapes us, and how often we take it for granted - until we are in danger of losing it.
Georgia Blain published novels for adults and young adults, essays, short stories, and a memoir. Her first novel was the bestselling Closed for Winter, which was made into a feature film. Her books have been shortlisted for numerous awards including the NSW, Victorian, and SA Premiers' Literary Awards, the ALS Gold Medal, the Stella Prize, and the Nita B. Kibble Award for her memoir Births Deaths Marriages. Georgia's works include The Secret Lives of Men, Too Close to Home, and the YA novel Darkwater. In 2016, Georgia published Between a Wolf and a Dog and the YA novel Special (Penguin Random House Australia). Between a Wolf and a Dog< was shortlisted for the 2017 Stella Prize, and was awarded the 2017 Victorian Premier's Literary Award for Fiction and the 2016 Queensland Literary Award for Fiction. Georgia passed away in December 2016.