Sunday, July 22, 2007

We came back

So yeah, that whole lying around in the sunshine reading business, hard to take. So not. But over now. Boo hoo. Once I would never have bothered with a holiday in a resorty type place with nothing to do but eat sleep read and go to the beach. Now it is heaven on a stick, but without the stick, which would only get in the way of the heaven part anyway. Who needs a big stick on your holiday? Not I. And that is all I am saying on the stick front. Used to be that ten days felt like plenty enough holiday. Not anymore. I need another month. At least.

So was it relaxing? Surprisingly yes. Even with an almost 2 year old who knee-walks like a demon (a weird knee-walking demon) and a 4 year old who has newly discovered her inner robber princess who is (deliciously ambiguously) a goodie and a baddie, called Chow-Chow. Chow-Chow fights her enemies by jumping into a star like position with one hand one out (You can't stop the music, Village People style) and shouting 'Light to the world'. And who on two mornings breakfasted on cocopops out of the mini pack cereal selection and was ropeable until we could get real food into her. That's why your mum would never let you eat them. Who knew?

We went swimming in the sea. It was lovely. Melbourne is fah-reaking CO-O-O-OLD.

In the last week I read:
*UGLIES By Scott Westerfeld. Bought when I had books and books, so didn't see the point in getting all three. Consumed rapidly. Went back to Cairns specifically to buy Pretties and Specials but Specials had SOLD OUT! Nooo. But managed to buy and read PRETTIES. Think I'm a bit of a fan actually. I read So Yesterday ages ago after seeing Scott talking at a CYL thing and really really liked it but was about to have a baby so was somewhat preoccupied. Somehow I was unprepared for how fannishly I would consume Uglies and Pretties. Bought Specials at Cairns airport but then Martin STOLE it and read it and meanwhile I started reading a Ben Elton book which has been sitting on my shelf for months and months (bought for 50c at the library book sale) and now feel oddly compelled to finish it. Might be subconsciously putting off finishing Specials because a) I don't want it to ever ever ever end and b) I couldn't buy Harry Potter because Martin wouldn't let me spend $45 at the airport and our local K-Mart has sold out. But yes. So far this trilogy is definitely recommended. And very reasonably priced too. And great covers, better than silly old those grapes were sour anyway Harry Potter's (must buy Harry must buy Harry).

*LITTLE CHILDREN by Tom Perotta. Good. Oddly tense. I thought the structure was quite unusual, particularly in terms of the unexpected climax and the way the story threads joined together. Won't say anymore for fear of spoilage, but recommended with reservations (like don't sell your children in order to buy a copy of this book, but it was well worth the 50c at the - you guessed it - library book sale). And the good thing about 50c books is you can leave them behind so you can bring new books home with you.

*AMATEUR MARRIAGE by Anne Tyler. Good, but not her best. In fact I could almost say I was marginally disappointed. But only marginally, it was still Anne Tyler after all, and I love being taken into her world and living with her people. She writes the most psychologically vivid characters, sometimes they feel more real than me. Clever structure again, similar in some ways to Little Children (in the way that the story builds through shifting points of view), but a much more elegant climax in some ways, though in other senses I thought it was a little muted. But always so much going on beneath the surface. Recommended, because I think everyone in the world should read every word she wrote. I think if there is a God then she's a little like Anne Tyler, she likes the details.

*CAT'S EYE by Margaret Atwood. I find something quite hypnotic about Margaret Atwood's prose, I start to think in it after a while. I love her poetry and short stories but it takes me a while to settle into the rhythms of her novels and I actually gave up on Alias Grace last year, though I do mean to try again. I had a few false starts with Blind Assassin too, and ended up adoring it, took me a month to read the first few chapters (my appendix burst soon after I began it) and then I read the rest of it in a day (this was before I had children - little reading saboteurs). Cat's Eye has a very similar feel to her short stories and seems perhaps a bit more autobiographical than some of her novels. Again the climax is a little unexpected, the novel builds a great deal of tension, which never really eases and hints at something quite dark at its climax but doesn't have a big satisfying plot-point finish. Which is part of its success. Recommended.

*And finally, aloud to Frederique, THE BIG BOOK OF TASHI. We broke with convention (Martin and I usually take it in turns to read the night time story) and I read nearly every night. More by luck than good management we read the very last story on the very last night. They are great stories with a strong fable flavour, actually many of them borrow strongly from traditional stories (like The Pied Piper). But the nuance and texture of the language is beautiful and these are great stories to read aloud. They did get a bit more complex as the book progressed and sometimes Fred's attention (which is about the size of a medium gnat and twice as buzzy) flitted off. But it's a brilliant book for introducing the concept of chapters because there's pictures on every page and each chapter is self-contained though there is often a link between the end of one chapter and the beginning of the next. Loved by all.

More on the holiday to come - photos (yep, you gotta sit through the Blue Sky, Short Sleeved holiday pics) and some vaguely hysterical gabble about the recently purchased house, which is the new next big thing. Actually, I'm in denial about that.


  1. Anonymous9:28 PM

    Ok ... first, you can't bags the book if you haven't started it ... and if it's just sitting invitingly amongst a pile of other books ... well, I'm sure it's a rule. Definitely not stealing. Oh, and the Uglies trilogy is great, really good!

    Second ... $45 is too much to pay and JKR sure as hell doesn't need the money. Will buy a discounted copy from Kmart thankyou very much ... shortly after which my wife will no doubt steal if from me and read it first.

  2. You so won't. You haven't read a Harry Potter since Goblet of Fire. And get off my blog. Stealer.

  3. Anonymous12:11 PM

    willow is calling all the kids in capes "Potties."

    as in:

    "look mum! another potty!"

    which, at $45 a pop, i'd have to agree with her.

  4. Anonymous12:14 PM

    oh yes, and at 6 weeks, my baby weighs 6kg. which is far too big in my opinion.

    please show us photographs. i need to see sun.
    right before i drag my offspring to the due-to-start-raining-for-years-on-friday city of melbourne.

  5. Molly purchased and devoured her copy of HP on the weekend. Whilst everyone lined up outside Birchalls and paid premium price she waltzed into Target, had only two people in front of her at the counter and paid peanuts for the pleasure. And I have to say it is the quietest she has been all weekend whilst actually being here!

    On a side note, we bought your latest offering the other week and she loved it. I'm trying really hard to wait until we go away as like you, I plan on doing lots and lots of reading!

    Can't wait to see pics.


  6. funny - The Amatuer Marriage is my favourite Anne Tyler - she's just absolutely fantastic at making her characters both terribly flawed and yet likeable at the same time.

  7. You have to try Alias Grace again. It is my mostest favouritest piece of historical ficiton ever. And the bestest Atwood (Hmmm... why do blogs invoke infantile phrasing?) But seriously, try Alias Grace again and then read 'Negotiating with the Dead' which is Atwood's collection of essays about writing. It's got a great piece on historical fiction that makes you realise all fiction is trapped by the construct of time.

  8. I'm in a Margaret Atwood phase right now. Am halfway through Oryx and Crake, have The Blind Assassin on storytape in the car, and in the middle of this I gulped down The Penelopiad in one night last week (feeding my Homeric obsession).

  9. Anonymous2:42 PM

    Hi Penni

    Delurking to say that there's another standalone book coming in the Uglies world, Extras - pub date is November 07. Whee!!

    (Also, hi!)