"For nearly one hundred years Seymour Bazett has bene burying 'treasures' in his backyard. His garden is full of mementoes, keepsakes, trophies, expereinces and sufferings that have made up his life. Now there is only one bit of gardening left to do - Seymour is about to bury itself. I digging his grave, however, he has unearthed some of his earlier burials. It is these objects that now conspire to tell the strange stories of how they came to be preserved.
"Horsfall's prose is vital, earthy and vividly enaging in this magical first novel of humour and savagery. The Touchstone is peopled with eccentric charcaters and unlikely happenings tackling the minutiae of life, the grand passions of love and murder and the eternal issues of sex and death."
The stones have asked me to say a few words before they begin. Provided I keep it short they are agreed it could not do any harm. Beyond that, in every sense, the matter has been taken out of my hands.
Oh, my story will still be told, but I have been relieved of the responsibility for it. The stones have promised me as much. No it is not my imagination, not just an old man's feeble-mindedness. I tell you there is a voice stirring in the earth this evening. A kind of voice. A rasping like the rubbing together of pieces of sandstone. A dry tongue drawn across granular lips. A stridulous whispering along the lines of fault, most grievous fault. Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.
There, can't you hear it? The stones-I call them stones but in fact they are much more than that-are conversing among themselves, bent upon unearthing the stratum of Truth. They have decided it is time to set the record straight, at long last. You will note: it is their decision, not mine. They are discussing the best way to begin, whether with the umbilicus or the teacher's gaze, the pocketless wanderers or the buried handkerchief, the marching umbrella stands or the last living cell. Each eolith is vying with its neighbour for the right to testify first.
From the Allen and Unwin paperback edition, 1995.
This novel was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award in 1996.
About the Author:
Paul Horsfall lives with his partner, their daughter and two cats in the inner-westem suburbs of Sydney. He is a collector of the popular music of the 1920s and 1930s, as well as contemporary jazz and fusion. He has never seen snow.
The Touchstone is his first novel.
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Last modified: May 18, 2002.