There is a fun meme going round, #iconfessineverread (Con, Rachel and others) and I had fully intended this post to be in similar vein but I seem to have rambled on instead :) Perhaps I will try and list some books I should have read but haven’t, in another post.
It’s fair to say that beyond what was required for school I have read little of the literary canon. I have on occasion dipped my toe into literary waters and at one stage I was at least trying to read Booker winners. That’s mostly a fail these days. Yet what I did read I enjoyed including Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things and Ian McEwan’s Amsterdam. McEwan I particularly liked as he managed to write interesting, intelligent books that were also short :) I haven’t read of his in years either including Atonement which everyone tells me I should read.
A lot of my reading has been more what is termed “genre reading”. Truckloads of science fiction, not to mention thrillers. Later I “diversified” into fantasy and other things. These days I read a mix of SF, fantasy, graphic novels and of course gaming. I’d argue that the games I like to play generally reflect a story telling approach and could be included in a list of “stuff I read”. I’ve recently finished Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, and it was split into sections labelled chapters to chart the plot progression. This worked for me and it felt like I progressed through a story of the classic 3 act approach, with a beginning, a middle, and an end. I think it even had a prologue and an epilogue.
I’ve not been particularly keen on writers’ festivals or conventions either. I’ve been to the odd event at the Sydney Writers’ Festival but mostly skip it. On the other hand, the few times I’ve gone I’ve usually run into people I know in the crowd and had engaging catch ups. Despite my fondness of SF, I’ve never been fond of SF conventions either and usually skip them too. Looking back I think it would have been nice to have got involved in a book club at least. I’ve had friends who’ve been in clubs for years and enjoy the continuing engagement with a group of familiar faces.
This week in fact I have started a book I should have read years ago, Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. I have no excuse, I even bought the hardcover when it was first published. Disappointingly even though it’s the first edition, it’s the 8th printing. I have had a look around and it seems there was a very nice edition published some years ago by Hill House. Unfortunately it’s also a little expensive.
I struggled to put 5 things together that weren’t just slide shows of interesting images but managed to find a few things to include:
A few weeks ago we popped down to Tassie for a long weekend and amongst other things we, or mostly I, tasted quite a few whiskies and spent evenings in the Nant bar and the Lark bar. We actually visited the Lark bar a couple of times as it had a really good atmosphere and had many Tassie whiskies available as well as Lark, whereas Nant only had Nant from Tassie plus a good range of international whiskies.
We also did a gourmet food tour of Bruny Island including cheese and whisky. The final stop was the House of Whisky and the included tasting was Nant however there was plenty of time so I was able to do a flight of four tastings including:
- Sullivan’s Cove Blue Label – won best whisky in the world a couple of years ago
- Overeem (43% Sherry Cask) – bought their last bottle and it was from the last batch that Casey Overeem made before selling the business to Lark
- Trapper’s Hut
- Mackey’s triple distilled
The Sullivan’s Cove was definitely my favourite, however the Overeem was a close second. Alas, or luckily, the Sullivan’s Cove was not available for sale as it’s really expensive these days. The guy did however give me the empty box as they had about 20 empty boxes out the back. I don’t recall being particularly fond of the Trapper’s but really liked the Mackay’s.
As part of the Bruny Island trip, we had lunch and tastings at the Bruny Island winery and they make some rather yummy pinot noir so I picked up a bottle of their standard and their reserve. The final item in the picture is a colourful owl I picked up at the Salamanca markets.
It used to be that thing that I loved taking the piss out of and now it’s morphed into something more. Someone asked that very question the other day, “Aussies like taking the piss out of Eurovision, why do we want to win?” To which I responded: a little bit of column A and a little bit of column B.
There is that sense of inclusion in something bigger, perhaps another layer of the Oz isolationist mindset and wanting to be part of Europe in other ways. There’s been a long history of looking to the Northern Hemisphere for influences. Either way, Oz audiences have been watching eurovision for a very long time and have some sense of connection one way or another.
Watching eurovision is an annual event and in our household we’ve been counting down for months. We watched the semifinal replays and got up in time to watch the live final at 5am. I thought only sportsball fans did that sort of thing. Being able to vote for real is a strange joy of its own.
It feels a bit weird to be part of a competing nation, the idea of a one off seemed fun; competing in eurovision has a certain novelty value. In 2015 I was a bit meh, and particularly so with our chosen act. But the act grew on me, as did the idea of participating. To actually be part of this thing on the other side of the world gave it new meaning.
I was excited to see Oz do well yet at the same amused that in a scoring system that reflects European politics, and that playoff of nation states, somehow Oz came out well and finished 5th. There was a sense in 2015 that was reinforced in 2016 that Oz is a safe country for competing European nations to vote for and removes difficulties around voting for and against their neighbours.
In 2016, the scoring went to the final gasp. I was actually tense. Oz came first on the jury vote and it got scarier and tenser as the final audience votes were awarded and it was clear that Oz was remaining on top. Winning raised other questions of where do we host it? Would it be in Sydney? …or a friendly European nation? Not to mention a surreal sense of winning something that we never expected to win.
The voting went down to the final two and only then, with the final score did we know whether we were first or second. Ultimately we were pipped on 511 by Ukraine on 534.
Not much in it at all. Still feels a wee bit odd but in a good way.
There seems to be a bunch of announcements of late including news just to hand that the 2008 Booker has been awarded to Indian born Aravind Adiga for his novel, The White Tiger. Also this week, AC/DC are releasing a new album that sounds like all their other ones, though one scribe reckoned it was their best since Back in Black. On top of all this good news, Metallica’s new one, Death Magnetic, picked up a good review in the weekend SMH.
The annual Ernie awards (2007 being the 15th year) were announced last night, and emerging from a strong field, was the eventual winner, Senator Bill Heffernan, for his comment that Julia Gillard was unfit for leadership as she was “deliberately barren“. The Ernies, while mostly going to blokes, have on occasion gone to women too, for comments unhelpful to the sisterhood, such as Blanche D’Alpuget for saying “I do” with Bob Hawke.
After 15 years, they’ve compiled some of the best examples into a book, The Ernies Book: 1000 terrible things Australian men have said about women, that goes on sale this month. As part of the launch the authors are participating in a debate at Gleebooks on 21 Nov, on the age old topic: “Are Australian men still male chauvinist pigs?” :-)