words of oz

A friend mentioned in conversation the other night, the last episode of the First Tuesday. This is a show I used to enjoy and watch regularly; the downside of not watching TV, or but rarely, is that you forget to watch the good stuff. At times like this I love iview, and similar such services, which allow me to catch up. I remember many years ago, when Babylon 5 was screening locally, turning up to screening parties with folk who’d had friends in the US physically post VHS tapes of recent episodes. No longer! Most such things are but a click or two away.

Last week’s episode of First Tuesday was a countdown of the 10 Oz novels one must read before they die. I don’t think I’ve read, in its entirety, any of the books on the list bar one:

  1. Cloudstreet – Tim Winton
  2. The Book Thief – Markus Zusak
  3. A Fortunate Life – A.B. Facey
  4. The Harp in the South – Ruth Park
  5. The Power of One – Bryce Courtenay
  6. Jasper Jones – Craig Silvey
  7. The Magic Pudding – Norman Lindsay
  8. The Slap – Christos Tsiolkas
  9. The Secret River – Kate Grenville
  10. Picnic at Hanging Rock – Joan Lindsay

With that said, I was reminded yet again, that I really need to read Picnic at Hanging Rock and Ruth Park’s Harp in the South. I love Tim Winton’s stuff, particularly Breath, yet I never got round to finishing Cloudstreet. This is disappointing as it as an easy read and he writes with a light touch. Last time I started it, I got about a third of the way through then got distracted and never got round to returning. I got about that far with Peter Carey’s History of the Kelly Gang. Both books are intriguing, interesting and easy to get into: I have no explanation as to why they remain unfinished. I have at least read The Magic Pudding…and of course The Muddle-Headed Wombat. And loved them both.

I have The Slap in a nice hardcover and I suspect in e as well. I’ve never heard of Jasper Jones and have no great desire to read Bryce Courtenay; though I would like to read the Book Thief which I think I have in e. Which brings me in a roundabout way to AB Facey’s A Fortunate Life. I never studied this at school yet, as mum was an english teacher, there were always copies about. I have a strong visual memory of the cover. Yet I’ve never opened, never attempted. It is probably the book I most strongly connect with as being “Australian” – whatever that might mean. Unread but required reading.

Currently I’m re-reading Malazan – I read the first 4-5 books, one every year or two, then the remaining one after the other in quick succession. I read the first 3 in 3 weeks while in Borneo, recently finished the fourth and and am now into the fifth. As much as I loved it the first time round, so much more now makes sense. Not to mention that I hadn’t quite realised that one of the semi-minor characters in book 4, features strongly in book 5 which is set prior. Now the world flows from one story to the next. Yet at the same time, I’m hitting the point where the story is fresher in my mind. All the more am I now looking forward to some of the climactic end scenes of books 8 and 9, and of course 10, the final book.

9 thoughts on “words of oz”

  1. I didn’t watch that episode as I knew what would be number one (and I was right). I know I’m in the minority but I detest Tim Winton (also Bryce Courtenay but I know I’m not alone there). There’s also nowhere near enough Peter Carey or Shane Maloney in that list either.

    I always thought you had to be a teenage girl to love Picnic at Hanging Rock (I was), but interestingly my partner read it a few years ago and loved it. Happily joined in with my silly shenanigans when we had an actual picnic at Hanging Rock. “Miranda….!”

  2. only just saw this – but DAMN where’s the Patrick White? where’s the Gerald Murnane? where’s the Christina Stead? where’s the Nettie Palmer? et al. i’m fussy with my australian lit – i think a lot of people don’t read it because the stuff we suggest is The Best is the stuff that is not that good. everyone should read Patrick White. he’s amazing.

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