Challenge Complete – sort of

I signed up to do the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge as usual, aimed for the Franklin level (read 10 books, review 6) but only managed to get as far as Stella (read 4, review 3). The main thing that got in the way was the creative writing course I started through Tabor Adelaide, which ate time and led me to read differently. Getting an iPad for my birthday also contributed.

The three books I reviewed were:

Her Father’s Daughter by Alice Pung

Tasting Life Twice by Ramona Koval

The Messenger Bird by Rosanne Hawke

 

I read more than four, have read 9 and counting, these were mainly nonfiction:

A Fig at the Gate by Kate Llewellyn (again)

First Things First – Selected Letters by Kate Llewellyn (read it twice) Editors were Ruth Bacchus and Barbara Hill

Piano Lessons by Anna Goldsworthy (again)

The Floral Mother by Kate Llewellyn (again)

The Fictional Woman by Tara Moss

Kerenza by Rosanne Hawke.

the shifting fog

I have borrowed a stack of Rosanne Hawke books and some Kate Morton, who I’ve not read before, to read over the summer. Then I must read them, instead of playing Pocket Trains!

 

 

 

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Tasting life twice by Ramona Koval

First Published 2005 by ABC Books.

tasting life twice

Tasting life Twice: Conversations with remarkable writers gets its title from a quote by Anaïs Nin, ‘We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospection.’ I found this book in an obscure corner of the Tea Tree Gully library, and what a find it was. 26 interviews with some of the biggest names in writing. Originally for ABC Radio National, these interviews were conducted around the turn of the millennium, and were later turned into this book.

At the time of writing this blog post, 12 of the writers have passed on, and of the 14 who are left, most are aged about 80, with the two ‘babies’, Ian McEwan and Martin Amis being old enough to get the pension. And I was dazzled, absolutely dazzled that Koval even managed to get this opportunity to meet these people in the first place, and she does the job well, and asks the sorts of questions that make the interview very interesting. She goes beyond the nuts and bolts of writing and gets to the deeper philosophical reasons why these people are writers and the other things that make them tick.

But then that old issue of gender raised its head. While I am glad the author has made the book her own without giving into the dreadful business of political correctness, and that whinge about there not being enough coloured or gay or whatever people represented, I would like to reflect a little on how it might have worked out that 8 women and 18 men were included.

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The dreaded TBR pile – saved for a rainy day

Today has been one of those rare rainy days that we get here, and at some stage I went through the pile of books in the little cupboard next to my bed.

P1180100

I set up this little bookshelf early 2012, taking anything I had not yet read out of my main bookshelf and storing it here. At the time I declared that I would not go back to the library until I had made my way through most of these, but I only read one or two. This is what is left, and the pile continues to grow while the library keeps tempting me to go astray. And before my Kobo fell from a great height and died, I had another stash of ebooks, all those lovely free classics, and only a couple of them were finished also.

Of the books pictured here, most were from secondhand bookshops, a couple were new, some were gifts from my mother and others gifts to my father (he returns them a few months later, so this influences what I buy him now!) Some I’ve had sitting around for almost 15 years. Naughty me! The stack at the front are books by AWWs (Australian Women Writers), so I might spend the rest of the year working through these, as I’ve only done one book review for #AWW2015 so far, and have five more to go!

I wonder at this tendency of mine to hoard books though. I live in such a dry place that when I save them for a rainy day, this is the result. But at the heart of it is fear I think, a  fear of what the future might bring. Perhaps I’m anticipating a future without libraries or bookshops or even books. So should it come to pass, well, you know where I’ll be!

Am I black enough for you? by Anita Heiss

First published 2012 by Bantam.

am i black enough for you

I wasn’t going to review this book. Mainly because almost everyone already did when it came out and I didn’t expect to have anything new to say about it. But I knew I wanted to read it, and once I got started I began reflecting on the subject of racism, and how I have tried to keep it out of my life. Sort of.

When I was a kid growing up in the 70s and 80s, the same era that Heiss grew up in, I was blessed with a few teachers who taught me to respect the ways of the original inhabitants of this wide brown land, but at the same time, Aboriginal jokes were still told (as were Irish jokes etc, although we didn’t touch Jewish jokes after what they’d been through) and names such as abo, coon and boong were also in use. Another word I heard was nunga, which I assumed was another of these derogatory words – it was years before I worked out it was a word Nungas (from southern SA) like to call themselves. I also lived in a very white part of Adelaide, and the only Aboriginal people I came across were the ones who liked to sit drinking in Victoria Square.

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All the Rivers Run by Nancy Cato

First Published 1978

all the rivers run

My parents were absolutely enthralled with All the Rivers Run the miniseries when it first screened in 1983 – I was a kid of 12 and didn’t get to stay up to see all of it. My dad, who is mad about paddle steamers and has had a lifelong passion for the Murray, was in heaven.

We made trips to Echuca in early ’84, when the Pevensey still had its “Philadelphia” name plate, and again when it screened again in 1987. By then I was old enough to see the entire thing; I was now going on 16, and got the book for my birthday from my newly remarried dad.

Having spent so many of my childhood holidays at different spots along the river, I could not only picture the happenings in the book, but also smell and almost taste those places. And with a family friend, Judith Crossley, writing folksongs about the riverboats Coonawarra and Enterprise, I felt that I belonged to the river and its steamers.

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All things bogan

Things Bogans Like by E. Chas McSween et al. First published 2010 by Hachette Australia.

Things Bogans Like

I really enjoyed this book. First I had a good old chuckle at all the headings, then later I went back and read each entry in detail. I noticed that the author/s felt the need to invent a series of fake bios with fake photos with masks etc – they are obviously afraid of being glassed by bogans.

While reading it my teenage son and I had fun bogan-spotting, but it was quite difficult to explain to his younger siblings what a bogan actually is. Apart from the  fact that certain people we know are definitely qualify! Of course the book needs to be viewed as a behavioral profile, as no one person will like all the things mentioned, also everyone has a few boganish likings.

That led me to the next question which was wondering what non-bogans like myself like. Then I found the blog Stuff White People Like, which E.Chas McSween et al bounced off to write this, and discovered that I was guilty of quite a few things, the white people in question being what David Nichols refers to as ‘antibogans’.

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The Bogan Delusion by David Nichols. First Published 2011 by Affirm Press.

the bogan delusion

The point of this book was to argue that the bogan was a figment of the imagination; that they do not actually exist.  The main problem is of course that some of my relatives are total bogans! Therefore I was interested in what he had to say, although I would have preferred a brief well thought out argument in the form of an essay to this book. But some publisher saw dollar signs, and Nichols being the university lecturer that he is, has filled the pages with waffle. During several chapters I was fooled into thinking I was back at uni attending a social geography lecture. It seemed as though Nichols forgot that he was supposed to be producing a book about bogans, and was waxing lyrical about suburbia instead. I can’t help but wonder if he has dragged out some old thesis from a drawer and rejigged it in order to wring some actual money out of it. This book should have been better.

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Boganomics by E.Chas McSween et al. First published 2011 by Hachette Australia

boganomics

This also could have been better. I was hoping for more laughs, but it turned out to be just a longer and boring version of Things Bogans Like. Obviously another publisher was seeing dollar signs.  That hasn’t stopped me from skipping the boring chapters and enjoying certain sections though, such as what bogans do on Facebook, hee hee hee!