‘I had never intended to become a memoirist – let alone a serial memoirist.’
But, after listening to her speak at Ginger’s Coffee Studio, we can add ‘serial memoirist’ to Anna Goldworthy’s extensive list of virtues. As well as being an award-winning classical pianist and writer, Anna is a warm, articulate and engaging speaker with a self-deprecating sense of humour. And, as everyone who met her on Monday night can attest, she is exceptionally tall.
Speaking to all three of her published works – her two memoirs Piano Lessons and Welcome to Your New Life, and her Quarterly Essay Unfinished Business: Sex, Freedom and Misogyny – Anna discussed issues of female subjectivity, motherhood, music and the craft of memoir.
She noted that, while memoir at its worst can be self-absorbed, she has always been attracted to the kind of memoir that focuses on characters other than the memoirist. Her first book, Piano Lessons, is as much a tribute to her teacher Eleonora Sivan as it is a reflection on her own youth. And, despite setting out to put mothers back in the spotlight with Welcome to Your New Life, she found herself writing the entire book in the second person; addressing it to you, making her newborn son the centre of the work.
She finished with a reading from this same work; a particularly incisive passage on motherly anxiety (specifically the anxiety that your infant child will somehow be dropped into a composting toilet) that had everyone in the audience laughing.
Anna’s next big writing gig is the premiere of the Victorian Opera’s production of The Magic Pudding. Come October, she will be a librettist as well.