Catherine Bush

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Canada | 2001

Catherine Bush is the author of the novel Minus Tim, which The New York Times praised for its “mordant vision of late 20th-century life” and The Rules of Engagement. A graduate of Yale University, she lives in Toronto.

Report 2001

Thank you for the gift of Santa Maddalena. I came to Santa Maddalena having heard of its beauty and knowing a little of its literary legacy: that the fabled Tower was a place where Bruce Chatwin, Michael Ondaatje and Gregor von Rezzori had all written. After a hectic spring, I had spent the month prior to my visit doing little but preparing for the six-month sojourn away from home—no writing. I took me no time at all to find my writing rhythm in the tower. Enchanted by the views from the windows of the pink room, I took the liberty of moving the desk from its corner spot to a position by the window so that every time I looked up from my work I was nourished by those views: the ranks of green hills and the spectacular clouds above them. I wrote my way deeply into the second draft of my third novel. I was nourished, too, by the good food and conversation and by the lingering presence of those who had come to Santa Maddalena before me. What a treat to read some of Gregor’s work in the place where it was written and where his spirit still presides. Beneath the calm of this places lies a foment of passion and energy. Before I arrived I knew only that a section of my book, which is partly inspired by the Antonioni film L’Avventura, would be set in Europe. Europe because of Tuscany. The presence of Santa Maddalena may not be obvious, but it’s there. And the round table behind the tower, which looks down upon one of the olive trees that you cleverly twinned with a rose, has become one of those inner places that I will always return to when in need of a retreat.