I know, I know. I haven’t been blogging much since I moved. It turns out that combining freelance work with job-hunting is itself pretty much the equivalent of a full time job. Who knew?
Another thing I’ve learned over the past month or so? Like a sheepdog stuck in a suburban backyard, herding children, cats, stray tradies – anything at all – out of sheer instinct, a copywriter with not enough work begins to edit everything in sight. A poor, misplaced apostrophe doesn’t stand a chance around me at the moment. I’m like Zorro, except with a pencil instead of a sword.
In spite of the radio silence, there’s been a lot happening behind the scenes of this blog. I’ve done a lot of rewriting. Take a look at my new About Me page, for instance. I’ve also taken a heap of new photos and generally spruced things up a little.
What’s with all the spring cleaning? The next couple of weeks are going to be pretty busy around these parts…
Since returning to Melbourne, I’ve been looking forward to the Emerging Writers’ Festival for the longest time. It kicks off next week, with the Opening Night Gala on Tuesday night (like a heap of EWF events, it’s free, but you’ll need to book). My Zorro pencil has been hard at work – not fixing apostrophes, but circling events in the EWF program. I’ve got a huge festival planned and I’m bound to be run off my feet, in the best possible way.
Earlier this evening, I realised today is Book to the Future’s fifth anniversary. I’ve got nothing prepared. Not a cake, not a competition, or even a special post. Apart from this one, which I’m making up on the spot. I completely forgot.
Worst blogger ever? Quite possibly.
I’m still settling into my new life, still trying to balance freelance work and job-hunting and everything else. I’m getting there; slowly working out where I’m going (and where I want to go) one step at a time. Is that a cliché? I don’t care – it’s true.
I’m grateful to everyone who’s taken the time to read one of my reviews over the past five years. Thanks to everyone who’s commented, emailed, Twittered – you’re all ace. Plus, super-special thanks to Linda and Jean from Newtown Review of Books and Thuy On from the Big Issue for being kind enough to publish my words in their respective publications.
Five years…that’s half a decade. Better get on with it – I’ve been doing this too long to stop now!
After a bit of a delay in transmission, it’s about time I got back to business.
Welcome to Book to the Future Bookmarks, a series of posts in which I share five literary links, straight from my bookmarks folder to your screen. Sometimes I have a bit of a chat about what I’ve been reading and what’s happening at large in the literary community, too.
If I were to write a list of everything I know about fashion and fashion designers, that list would be incredibly short. So, this might be really old news to anyone who’s into fashion, but I recently discovered Sydney-based label, Romance Was Born created a 2015 collection inspired by May Gibbs’ Snugglepot and Cuddlepie. You can take a peek at the Bush Magic collection right here.
While on the subject of childhood memories, here’s Tintin, naked (the link’s old, and in French, but worthwhile). “It’s the same Tintin au Congo” says the article, “but naked”.
Tintin in the Congo is arguably the most controversial of the Tintin series, created by Belgian cartoonist, Hergé. It was published in the thirties and, despite various later revisions and alterations, still remains horrendously racist. And that’s not to mention the casual attitude to killing native African animals. Charming.
An unknown artist is republishing Tintin au Congo on Tumblr – but with Tintin (and only Tintin) pictured in the buff. It’s a clever project that questions the things we find offensive – or at least, that’s how I see it. Because if you find Tintin’s nudity the most offensive thing in Tintin au Congo À Poil, you’re not paying attention.
Ferrante or Knausgaard? It’s a difficult decision. As I mentioned in my last post, I recently read the first book of Knausgaard’s My Struggle series and I’m seriously considering committing a jail-worthy crime or joining a religious order so I have time to read the rest of the series. Learning Norwegian is also an option that’s crossed my mind. However, the appeal of reading Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels is also strong – and after reading this New Yorker article, it’s even more so. Bring me books and get me to a nunnery…
From multi-book epics to the very short – take a look at Electric Lit’s list of 17 Short Novels You Can Read in a Single Sitting. It’s an interesting list, but there’s a lot missing…like, for example, Helen Garner’s The Children’s Bach. Or Georges Bataille’s The Story of the Eye, which is one of my favourite read-in-an-afternoon books – I’ve read it so many times I’ve lost count (and often wonder what this says about me). I’m not going to start listing all my favourite novellas because I’ll be here all day…but I will leave a bonus link here. If you’re into novellas, Daniel Young (of Tincture Journal fame) has just started a new blog called All the Novellas, in which he plans to read and post his thoughts on – you guessed it – all the novellas. It’s an amazing project – I’ll be cheering him on.
Finally, if you haven’t already, make sure you add your name to this petition, kicked off by Emily Paull (emerging writer, bookseller and the blogger behind The Incredible Rambling Elimy) protesting the change of the Western Australian Premier’s Book Award to a biannual prize. With just under 500 signatures already, you should make sure yours is one of them.
That’s all I have for this edition of Book to the Future Bookmarks. Actually, it’s not really – I’ve still got over 900 links I’ve added to my bookmarks folder in the past few months to sort through. They’ll have to wait for the next time around.
Edited to add: Of course, only a matter of hours after I click the “publish” button on this post, the Miles Franklin longlist is announced. Thoughts? Omissions? I’ve only read two longlisted books and neither really impressed me. It’s not the riskiest list ever – but has the Miles Franklin ever been risky?
A lot has changed over the past few weeks, so I thought I’d try to explain it all with six short pieces…
We’ve been living here for less than two weeks and everything still feels giddy. There’s a small tree in our courtyard that has burst into pink blossoms in the past week as if in enthusiastic welcome. We’re right in the middle of a group of attached townhouses, and we’re slowly getting used to the sounds of our neighbours moving about their homes – the way their muted voices drift through our open windows on warm evenings.
Everything might be new, but the top stair still creaks reassuringly when we come upstairs at night, just like the last place we lived.
I’m slowly cataloguing the thousands of little noises that come along with this new place; still finding places for all my Sydney things and my Sydney memories.
Soon, when we both get new jobs and begin to forge new routines, this will stop feeling like a holiday – but I’m secretly hoping that this transitory moment lingers as long as possible.
“Our next stop is Melbourne Zoo. The zookeeper’s just radioed through to let me know that a few of the lions have just escaped. They’re all out looking for them, but if you’re in the area, please take care…”
It was a practical joke intended for a group of primary school kids on a nocturnal excursion to the zoo. Someone in my carriage audibly groaned, but it amused me.
No place like (nearly) home
It’s not such a big deal, moving to Melbourne. I’m originally from Melbourne.
(Actually, that’s technically not true. I grew up in a small country town an hour out of the city. But Melbourne has always felt like home to me.)
Moving back wasn’t a snap decision, although the way everything came together so quickly makes me feel like it was. It was something we’d been talking about for years. In the last months of 2014, the decision was made – and now, here I am, a thousand kilometres south of the city in which I spent the past eleven years, feeling a little like what Dorothy must have felt when she landed in Oz.
At least Dorothy got to take her house with her.
We sold a lot of our furniture to make the move cheaper. Including my giant bookshelf. Now all my books are piled up against the walls again, the way they were when I started this blog. It feels like things have come full circle.
My struggle (with nostalgia)
We spent a week and a bit in my hometown, staying with my parents while we were looking for somewhere to live. I packed a ridiculous number of books for the time we spent away, but I only ended up reading one – A Death in the Family, the first book in Knausgaard’s My Struggle series.
I’ve been thinking about nostalgia (in literature, but also in myself) a lot lately. Knausgaard’s relentlessly introspective look at his childhood and impossibly awkward teenage years brought back floods of memories of my own.
There’s really no better place to read Knausgaard than in the home in which you grew up. The combination of words and place set my memory whirring.
To tell the truth, I’m a little bit in love. If I didn’t have an embarrassingly large pile of books on my desk waiting to be reviewed, I’d have already started the next book in the series. Maybe soon.
While staying with my parents, my Dad asked me about hashtags, so I tried to explain and ended up handing over my phone and showing him Twitter.
“But what’s Twitter actually for?” he asked me.
“Well, you send out a message using fewer than 140 characters and people who follow you on Twitter can read it and respond” I responded.
“Why would you want to do that?”
“Um – because you want to tell people about something you’ve done, or a thought you’ve had – or talk about a book you’ve enjoyed. Other people follow your tweets and see all the things you talk about”
“How many people follow your tweets?”
I told him.
Things I’m sad to leave behind (or: yes, even more nostalgia)
The Blue Mountains in the distance through my study window
Flowering Jacaranda trees (or perhaps specifically the one outside my former workplace?)
Reading on the train to work
Dressing up to go to the Opera House
Our favourite Chinese restaurant
Going to Gleebooks after a long day at work
Wednesday night expeditions to the Art Gallery of New South Wales
Glen, my Big Issue guy
A burger with the lot from the milk bar near my work for lunch on Fridays
My glasses fogging up instantly as I walked down the stairs into Town Hall station into a wall of humidity
People-watching in Newtown
Saying hello to Christina Stead every time I’d walk past her plaque at Circular Quay
The 343 through Redfern, even though it never ran on time
Getting to know my fellow commuters over the years without ever exchanging a word
Old wallpaper preserved behind clear perspex on the walls of the New South Wales Writers’ Centre
Lewisham, the home of Sydney’s friendliest cats (and people)
(Talking of people, there are far too many of you to name individually, but you know who you are)
Driving to our favourite beach for the day
Getting lost in The Rocks (and thinking of Playing Beattie Bow every single time)
Hot chocolate from Central station on the way to work in winter
The many places I never managed to find time to explore
It’s sad to be gone. It’s good to be back. Things are happening all at once. I’m unpacking boxes. I’m looking for a new job for the first time in nine years. I’m making plans. I’m writing.