Steeplechase, a novel by Brisbane-based writer Krissy Kneen, explores the relationships between many things: between sisters Bec and Emily, between art and madness, and between the past and present. Bec, a painter and tertiary art teacher living in Brisbane, receives a phone call from her estranged sister Emily while recovering from surgery. Emily, an acclaimed artist and now living in Beijing, invites Bec to visit her for the opening of a new show. With this, Bec is confronted by an awful past, some great and terrible event during their isolated childhood in rural Queensland that drove the two sisters apart.
This is what I have done with my life –
Alone, I have moved to the edge of a vast desert to live in a cold apartment with high ceilings, wooden floorboards, a dusty chandelier, and a claw foot tub. There is a large bedroom for my single mattress (with its sharp springs and sleeping-bag blanket) and a large bedroom for my desk (a weathered kitchen table harvested from the street side). On this desk sit stacks of paper, an open laptop, a burning candle that lights little and heats nothing, and a glass ashtray filled with pencil shavings. On the stacks of paper are the hasty and searching sentences that make up the first draft of my first novel. And on the laptop (the laptop open in front of my eyes) is a video that is not pornography. Because yesterday I learned that diddling one’s self while watching others engage in loveless sex does not quell the sensation that you are ultimately alone in this world. And you are ultimately alone in this world. Even if you’re in a relationship. Even if you’re a siamese twin. We are alone because we will never know what it is like to live behind another’s eyes…
I’ve always loved sluts.
I’m not sure if this is nature or nurture, as I was raised with a plethora of female role models whose ‘empowerment’ was predominantly derived from their sexuality. Being born in the early 90s, I experienced the world post-sexual revolution, mid third-wave feminism, all in full-colour through a somewhat grainy television screen.