Thursday, May 21, 2009

Plethora of Literary Wonderments and Ramblings

Those of you curious cats who find your way to my rant will know about the impending shift of countries (mine not the countries'). I'm ultra pleased to announce the Bookshelf Doomsday over! All are coming with me. To ensure this happens they are all packed in tidy boxes and situated in a prominent location next to the front door. To celebrate this triumph appropriately I bought more books.

Having said that I have a reading stack to devour that would make the Eiffel Tower blush, I should know, I've seen such wonders. These are books lent to me, given to me and lovingly brought back as gifts from Swine Flu land, ol' Me-hi-co itself. The list: The Collected novels of McCullers, Salt by Maurice Gee, Ghoul by Maurice Gee, The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz, and Winds of Heaven (yeah, not the best title) by Judith Clarke. To top it all off the most recent edition of The Paris Review has landed!

I started reading Salt before bed. It's a fantasy novel about a boy who searches for his enslaved father in the deep salt mines run by Company (political and social philosophy abound, which Text Publishing seem to encourage, after publishing the likes of Genesis by Bernard Beckett). There's a dash of mind reading, mixed with the adventure of crossing the mysterious terrain with a Dweller woman and a Company girl who has fled a forced marriage. The writing is clean and acute, but the first night after reading I had nightmares about ravenous wild dogs. In the story they eat the boy's old man friend because the boy sends them too. Not to worry, the old man is hopefully dead first. The second time I read this before bed - nightmare town. A coincidence? By the third round of reading Salt before bed and having subsequent nightmares, I've labelled it day time reading only. Not sure if Ghoul will have such dark undertones but I'm guestimating it will. Hell, at least there's no wizards or dragons, which seem to dominate children's and YA fantasy at the moment.

So now I read The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter, and dream of Mick, the prom party-hosting, smoking kid from the south (dang, I could've had a whole novel of just her). It's amazing isn't it that the American Southern writers have such distinct voices? McCullers work reminds me of Faulkner, whom I love, not just for the structure and multiple narrator point of view, but tone and mood.

But I couldn't leave the recent issue of The Paris Review in its wrapping. And I'm so glad I didn't. The first short story by James Lasdun The Hollow felt like home so much it almost made me homesick, until I realized I'd soon be up in the mountains, meeting my neighbours on horseback and hearing the local gossip, which my mother all ready fills me in on: the teenager living across the street had a baby, the bed and breakfast pricks next door sold to a young English couple who don't get along with the previous owner still living on the property, the gay couple behind our house are still probably growing drugs in their field (but no one really knows) and the hillside is looking pretty bare because the pine beetle have eaten all the pines. There now you're up to speed too.

The best news is that I've been granted permission to build a straw bale studio on my parents' property, using all reclaimed materials for an environmentally friendly space. I've already got a professional photographer on the books to document the raising of the 'Writing Shed'. No one seems to think I can build it. My mother says I have no muscles (OK, I admit it, I thought the new Melbourne train seats were broken for a week until I realised they were not - I just didn't have the strength to fold them down). We'll see. I anticipate sweat, and a certain level of disaster. This blog will host it all, starting this July.

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