Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Camp Falls, Tasman National Park, the Tasman Peninsula. October 2013.
A Greyhound of a Girl, Roddy Doyle: This is the first of Roddy Dolye’s books that I’ve read that he’s written for younger readers. In many respects it is ‘typical Doyle’, but with a distinctly softer edge in terms of language and overall ambiance. That said, the narrative voice is distinctly Irish and I didn’t find the change undermined my enjoyment of the novel. Given the central themes of death, ageing and regret, the author does a great job of communicating a sense of tenderness and understanding without resorting to condescension or the hackneyed metaphors often seen in this kind of thing.
Essentially a tale of love and death across four generations of women in one family, the blurb sums it up nicely: "One of them is dead, one of them is dying, one of them is driving, and one of them is just starting out". I enjoyed it, you might too. Recommended. C+.
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Boat alone. The Tasman National Park, Tasmania. October 2013.
We Have Always Lived in the Castle, Shirley Jackson: This is a dark little book that – like a lot of Shirley Jackson’s work – explores the idea of persecution of people who are ‘different’. It is a tricky read full of strangeness and goings on where the moral lines are not clear and the narrator clearly unreliable and quite a bit unstable. Despite a multiplying sense of unease and malevolence, the book also explores concepts of love and devotion. Immensely macabre elements are treated as unremarkable; the sense of agoraphobia is virtually unrelenting. Yet the language is deceptively simple, and the almost dreamlike ‘otherness’ both real and imagined. Together, social class and actions in the past divide the family at the centre of the book and the narrow-minded townsfolk, but just how strange and different the sisters are is beyond them.
Of course, we the reader have an insight that they do not, and the type of horror generated is one that exemplifies wonderful storytelling. Something terrible has happened in the past, and something terrible happens in the narrative, and the reader is not given firm footing to determine who is worthy of our compassion or condemnation. In this way, the framing of the story and progression of the narrative is masterful. It’s the best kind of fairy-tale, both horrible and lovely at the one time. I really enjoyed it.
Rugged coastline. The Tasman National Park, Tasmania. October 2013.
Tuesday, November 05, 2013
Things are looking up. The corner of Campbell and Liverpool Streets, Hobart. September 2013.
A long-delayed Q and A stolen again from Sunday Stealing. This time, Meme 325!
Something that’s holding you back from achieving your dreams:
Something you think you could win an award for:
Something you fear more than anything:
Caring what people think.
Something you wish people would understand:
That life would be much easier if they were a little nicer to each other.
Something that keeps you going everyday:
The promise of sleep.
Something amazing that happened last Summer:
Henry and I saw a foot-long weedy sea dragon while snorkelling at Opossum Bay. We were less than a metre away for a good couple of minutes.
Something you hate that people say:
The casual use of the word ‘bogun’ in work contexts.
Something you refuse to pay money for:
Something you wish you could have told that person that you never saw again:
“It’s not the end of the World…”
Something that really stands out about last year:
I felt fitter and healthier than I have in years.
Something you like that everyone else thinks is weird:
I like obscure forms of Hungarian stews.
Something you do when you’re trying to calm down:
I go into the laundry and count to ten.
Something you do when you wake up at three AM:
Try to go back to sleep.
Something amazing that’s happened this year:
I managed to snare a very good job.
Something you love doing on cold rainy days:
Go to the beach!
Something you listen to when you’re in a really good mood:
Something that irritates you more than anything:
People who celebrate their ignorance as if it were something to be proud of.
Something you’re addicted to/ can’t stop doing:
Something that really stands out about you:
I have magnificent legs.
Something about you that’s like everyone else:
If you prick me, I bleed.
Something that makes you change the channel:
Having the television on alone makes me leave the room. I fear that TV has passed me by.
Something you think about every night before you go to sleep:
I think about sleep.
Something that you don’t think will ever change about you:
I’m certain that I’ll never feel like a proper grown up.
Something about you that you think will soon change:
I might start wearing a wetsuit.
Something that broke your heart as a child:
Too much saturated fat.
Something that really sparks your interest:
Russian history. Particularly the pre- and post-revolutionary period.
Something that truly disgusts you:
Killing and harming animals for pleasure.
Something the opposite gender has complimented you on:
A decent pair of legs and a pleasing sense of humour. A deadly pair, you’ll agree.
Monday, November 04, 2013
Henry at work. Geilston Bay. September 2013.
The Winter Queen, Boris Akunin: A story of murder, suicide, deception and disguise that hurtles through pre-revolutionary Tsarist Russia. Crafted with care, Akunin weaves some beautiful expression and a series of exotic historical settings - primarily Moscow, Saint Petersburg and a quick jaunt to the seedier side of London in the mid-1870s - together with a wonderful series of well developed characters that really does feel like Tolstoy tackling a murder mystery.
I loved it. A.
Sunday, November 03, 2013
We grow tired of everything but turning others into ridicule, and congratulating ourselves on their defects.
The view from the top. The summit of Mount Wellington. September 2013.
100 Essential Things You Didn't Know You Didn't Know, John D. Barrow: This book explores one hundred conundrums, questions and queries through the lens of mathematics. The book runs through infinite monkeys banging out Shakespearean plays on typewriters, your odds of winning the lottery, horse races, divorce, Google, game theory, infinity and chaos; there is much to enjoy here even if Maths is something other than your strong point. While the book is (happily) not dumbed down at all, it remains jammed to the brim with equations sure to make you squirm. C+.
Life at the top. The summit of Mount Wellington. September 2013.
Thursday, October 31, 2013
My unconscious knows more about the consciousness of the psychologist than his consciousness knows about my unconscious.
Ezra the convict. Historic Coal Mines Site, Saltwater River. August 2013.
Murder on the Orient Express, Agatha Christie: This book moves along beautifully - as the best Agatha Christie novel do. Moreover, even though this one has become a clichéd trope referenced by everyone from The Simpsons to the Muppets, it remains as fresh and surprising as ever. Someone has been murdered. The victim is not very nice. The murder took place on The Orient Express while stranded in a snow drift. There is a colourful array of characters, all of whom are suspect is varied and unusual. Hercule Poirot just happens to be on the train and the solution to the mystery is a pure head scratcher.
Well worth your time. B.
Henry on the ferry. Bruny Island. September 2013.
Monday, October 21, 2013
Hippolyte Rocks #1, Tasman Peninsula. September 2013.
The Dare, John Boyne: A simple tale from the perspective of a twelve-year-old boy, it does a realistic job of constructing a compelling story about how one simple moment can change a people's lives forever. C.
The far south, Tasman Peninsula. September 2013.