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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Book Meme - Day 5

Day 05 - A book or series you hate

'Bless the Beasts and Children is a 1970 novel by Glendon Swarthout that tells the story of several emotionally disturbed boys away at summer camp who unite to stop a buffalo hunt. The 151-page book concerns many social issues of the 1960s and 1970s'.

I had to study this book for Year 12 English. This is not necessarily a reason for hating a book - I still enjoy Pride and Prejudice, Shakespeare in various forms, and other stuff I studied at school. I LOATHED this book with a passion. The fact that I can still remember how much I hated it may hint at just how loathsome I found it.

I thought it was boring, badly written and just not worthy of studying. I suppose it does consist of many 'issues' which is what tends to make a book worthy of study. But the best of those are at least interesting. I would personally like to see every copy of this book consigned to a bonfire. No, wait, that contributes to global warming. Maybe they should all be pulped and turned into interesting books. If any copies still exist.

My apologies in advance to anyone who loves this book.

Thinking about it, a more recent loathed read was,_This_Is_Anna. Mr God, This is Anna by Sydney Hopkins, AKA 'Fynn'. I believe it is a much-loved and much raved about book that is supposedly of extreme spirituality. I thought it was kiddie porn thinly disguised as Christian propaganda. It made me feel sick. And I consider myself to be a (rather lukewarm) Christian, so it wasn't that aspect which upset me.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Book Meme - Day 4

Day 04 - Your favorite book or series ever

This is not an answerable question!!!

The first series I remember reading and rereading was The Chronicles of Narnia, starting when I was five.  Also, around the same time, The Swallows and Amazons books.  Both occupied my imagination to a very large degree for a very long time.  They were a welcome escape from a not necessarily happy childhood, and I was able to take the main characters and run with them in my mind, making up countless adventures inspired by the books and living heroically in my imagination very satisfactorily!

Countless other books have filled a similar niche since then.  My 'favorite' book is often one that I have read recently and thought was wonderful.  My favorite series right now is the Kurt Wallender series by Henning Mankell, a Swedish detective series.  I am about halfway through it and love the darkness and complexity of it.

Edited to add:  How could I have forgotten the incomparable Terry Pratchett!  The man who can write no wrong.  OF course I love Discworld with a passion :)

On the non-reading front - we have been beset with sickness of various sorts here and I have spent more time than I care ti think about sitting around emergency departments while Wombat (twice) and George (once) have been tested and examined and poked and prodded by a series of doctors and nurses that have started to blur into one amorphous mass.  I decided the other day that doctors should not look like they have strayed off the set of ER, as did the registrar dealing with George.  He was an excellent and competent doctor, but those blue eyes!  Mildly distracting :)  What with that, and two hospital appointments for Wombat to check up on him, I have had enough of Monash Medical Centre to last me for a while.

When not sitting around hospitals reading old detective fiction (Agatha Christie, another favorite since I was about 10, is rather good for hospital reading) I have been sorting out my father's books.  As he left them all to Baby bear, and she doesn't want 99% of them, I have taken up the task of sorting them into sundry categories. Keep (books that are of interest to any one of the four of us); Charity; Value (ones that I think I may be able to sell online - I estimate, before starting to value them, that about 50% of these will go to charity also; for the rest I will probably set up a shop on Ebay - I have always wanted to try my hand at second hand book selling!); and Weirdo Stuff for Me (books of no obvious monetary value that I can use for mixed media works). The profits, if any, from selling the books will be going into a trust fund for Baby Bear along with the modest amount of  money her grandfather left her.

I have been struggling with trying to retain a shred of charity for my father.  I have tried hanging onto the good memories, as recommended by a number of wise people :)  Sometimes it works.  Not when I have spent hours sifting through books and remembering rather forcefully that he left his money and valuable possesions to other people, but quite obviously expected me to sort everything out.  Yes, I am feeling a little bitter.  I am glad that Baby Bear will benefit financially (and he left a bit of money to Wombat too), and I am grateful to have the family archival material that he left me.  But I also resent being left with all the ****work and nothing to show for it.

Book Meme - Day 3

Day 03 - The best book you've read in the last 12 months

Always a hard one, just like all the other questions!  But I think my stand-out book for the last 12 months has been The Trout Opera by Matthew Condon.  This is the blurb from his publisher:

THE TROUT OPERA is a stunning epic novel that encompasses twentieth-century Australia. Opening with a Christmas pageant on the banks of the Snowy River in 1906 and ending with the opening ceremony of the Sydney Olympics in 2000, it is the story of simple rabbiter and farmhand Wilfred Lampe who, at the end of his long life, is unwittingly swept up into an international spectacle. On the way he discovers a great-niece, the wild and troubled young Aurora, whom he never knew existed, and together they take an unlikely road trip that changes their lives. Wilfred, who has only ever left Dalgety once in almost a hundred years, comes face to face with contemporary Australia, and Aurora, enmeshed in the complex social problems of a modern nation, is taught how to repair her damaged life.

This dazzling story - marvellously broad in its telling and superbly crafted - is about the changing nature of the Australian character, finding the source of human decency in a mad world, history, war, romance, murder, bushfires, drugs, the fragile and resilient nature of the environment and the art of fly fishing. It's the story of a man who has experienced the tumultuous reverberations of Australi
an history while never moving from his birthplace on the Snowy, and it asks, what constitutes a meaningful life?
I loved it for a number of reasons: it is a thoroughly surreal romp through 100 years of Australian history, a beautiful love story, a satirical attack on bureaucracy and 'progress', a lyrical tribute to a lovely part of Australia, and is full of beautifully realised eccentric characters.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Book Meme - Day 2

Day 02 - A book or series you wish more people were reading and talking about

This is a hard one.

I am going to settle for authors.

Two of my all-time favorite authors are Iris Murdoch and Robertson Davies.  Of course many people have read their books and they have won prizes and things, so they are hardly obscure.  But I don't personally know, either in 'real life' or online, who ever mention them.

I have read most of Iris Murdoch's books more than once, many of them more than that.  I will continue to read them until the day I die.  One day George was reading out a literary quiz to me and one of the questions was 'what is this the first line to'  and he was only halfway through it and I had picked the Iris Murdoch novel it came from - and it was an early one, written about 20 years before the time we were doing the quiz.  I dream of her characters.  I cannot last more than a couple of months without rereading her.  There is only one of her novels that I dislike, The Red and The Green, which is a historical novel set around the events leading up toe Easter Rebellion in Ireland during WW1.  But I have a first edition of it that I am hanging onto anyway!

I haven't actually read all of Robertson Davies, and not any for a long time.  But now I have written this I probably will reread what I have and obtain what I have not.  He is wonderful.  Imagine Garrison Keillor with lots of magic realism.

As an extra, I am going to nominate Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising.  I know lots of people have read it and loved it but I think even more people should, and should.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Book Meme - Day 1

Day 01 - A book series you wish had gone on longer OR a book series you wish would just freaking end already (or both!)

Gone on longer - I guess I would have liked another Harry Potter book or two, about what they did when they left school.  But that's so NOT an original idea! 

 Series I wish would end - The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan.  Not that I haven't loved it, but it has taken FAR TOO LONG and some of the books could have been condensed a little.  I have often wondered if he realised that he was onto a money spinner and decided to extend the series.  As for a definition of too long - he went and died before writing the last book; a new writer is hired to write the last book from his extensive notes - that 'last book' is now going to be three last books - I started reading this series before my 17 year old daughter was born, for goodness sake, and she will have a driving licence before it is finished!!!

Book Meme

I got this from

'a discussion-starter or prompt for blog posts - I copied this from; she sourced it from Anna Louise Genoese at'
Many of my answers will be qualified because I can rarely pick one 'greatest' thing about books (or films, or TV).

I will try to do these one a day!

Day 01 - A book series you wish had gone on longer OR a book series you wish would just freaking end already (or both!)
Day 02 - A book or series you wish more people were reading and talking about
Day 03 - The best book you've read in the last 12 months
Day 04 - Your favorite book or series ever
Day 05 - A book or series you hate
Day 06 - Favorite book of your favorite series OR your favorite book of all time
Day 07 - Least favorite plot device employed by way too many books you actually enjoyed otherwise
Day 08 - A book everyone should read at least once
Day 09 - Best scene ever
Day 10 - A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving
Day 11 - A book that disappointed you
Day 12 - A book or series of books you’ve watched more than five times
Day 13 - Favorite childhood book OR current favorite YA book (or both!)
Day 14 - Favorite character in a book (of any sex or gender)
Day 15 - Your "comfort" book
Day 16 - Favorite poem or collection of poetry
Day 17 - Favorite story or collection of stories (short stories, novellas, novelettes, etc.)
Day 18 - Favorite beginning scene in a book
Day 19 - Favorite book cover (bonus points for posting an image!)
Day 20 - Favorite kiss
Day 21 - Favorite romantic/sexual relationship (including asexual romantic relationships)
Day 22 - Favorite non-sexual relationship (including asexual romantic relationships)
Day 23 - Most annoying character ever
Day 24 - Best quote from a novel
Day 25 - Any five books from your "to be read" stack
Day 26 - OMG WTF? OR most irritating/awful/annoying book ending
Day 27 - If a book contains ______, you will always read it (and a book or books that contain it)!
Day 28 - First favorite book or series obsession
Day 29 - Saddest character death OR best/most satisfying character death (or both!)
Day 30 - What book are you reading right now?

Saturday, July 24, 2010


I went to the Stitches and Craft Show in Melbourne yesterday, and generally had a good time.  There was lots of interesting stuff to see, and to wonder over, and some of it followed me home...

There was some cool textile art, like this from Prudence Mapstone, which was as amazing as everything she does (and it was nice to say hello to her again too).

The Quilt Show was obviously very popular though I admit that to my tastes there are never enough 'art quilts'.  I really do admire the work and the patience and the artistry of the more conventional quilts that are there - I would never in a million years be able to sit down and do them - but I seem to gravitate towards the more weird and demented types of art quilt these days.

All in all a fun (and expensive!) day out.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Adventures of Bobby the Ram, Part 1

Our trip to Canberra was pretty awful. Not that Canberra isn't a good place to visit, but it isn't when you are spending most of your time freezing your **** off in a dingy dive in Queanbeyan packing the multitude of **** your long-estranged father has left behind him for you to deal with. Our gloomy week was enlivened by some visits with friends, a small amount of sight-seeing, the best of Canberra's winter weather (very cold but sunny and crisp and beautiful), and the arrival into our lives of a certain little ruminant.

Bobby the Ram has had a bit of a sad life. He ran away to live with Jejeune in Canberra because her naughty little lamb Lulu broke his heart. Jejeune tried to cheer him up and improve his education, but to no avail. So when I was visiting her he decided to run away with me. The children took to him immediately and introduced to him to some of their friends.

Baby Bear helped him to make friends with Max, who has lived with us since her second birthday. His real name is Gluteus Maximus, which is the English (or rather Latin) translation of the name he was given by IKEA, which was Bums. He is a very caring and wise bear and we hope that Bobby has learnt some serenity from him.

Wombat introduced him to Momo the Lemur, who is a magical air-bending, fire-bending, other element-bending bundle of fun. They had some good times together. Here they are up the top of Black Mountain Tower.

Bobby got a good look through the telescope on Black Mountain Tower. Although not very fond of heights he clung on to his new friends and agreed that the view was mighty fine.

He also got to go up to the top of Mount Ainslie to watch the sun set. We cut it rather fine there - got there just as the sunset was happening.

It has taken me two weeks just to write this first installment of Bobby's adventures, owing to minor distractions like unpacking boxes (of which there are TOO MANY MORE to go!!!) and Wombat being sick for over a week, including two trips to the ER (all in all he probably has a virus. Thank god for the Australian health system, so far we have paid for one out of three doctor's visits and nothing at the hospital). A CT scan has proved that he has a brain, and even better, that there is nothing in it other than brain.

More pictures of Bobby to come...