2014 – the wonders – paddy o’reilly

Wonders

The stare is a different thing altogether. Leon had come to think of the stare as admiration Maybe Kathryn was right. A child uses the stare as a tool of curiosity and wonder. The grotesque is wonderful. The malformed is wonderful, the unexpected is wonderful and so is the beautiful. There is far less judgement in the unguarded stare of a child than the hush-ups of their adult companions.

He told Kathryn how, at a private dinner, a child who was waiting in the corridor for her waitress mother to finish work had asked him if he was a robot. That made him laugh. ‘Is your brain made of metal too?’ she asked. She was five, the age when the questions pour out of a child like milk out of a jug. ‘Do you eat nails? Why did they put it in that way? Do you have feelings?’

‘Oh yes,’ Leon answered her. ‘I have so many feelings that sometimes I think I’ll burst.’

‘Me too, she replied gravely. She touched his hand and looked up at his face with serious eyes. Eyes that didn’t waver. Eyes that never flickered once to the hole in his chest

Earlier this week, I reviewed Paddy O’Reilly’s The Wonders for Newtown Review of Books. It’s a novel so full of ideas it might burst. If you’re interested, head over and take a look.

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book to the future bookmarks #12

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Every second Monday at Book to the Future, I share a selection of literary links, as well as a few thoughts on what I’ve been reading lately…and anything else that comes to mind.

This particular Monday is the last day of the last long weekend of the year (for those of us here in Sydney, at least). I’ve been hard at work writing reviews – and because I’m eager to continue writing, I’m going to keep this edition of Book to the Future Bookmarks relatively short.

Today’s links all centre around little stories and big apples. I hope you find them as interesting as I do.

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past, present and future with annabel smith

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theark-annabelsmithWelcome back to Past, Present and Future, the fortnightly (ahem) post in which I invite a special guest over to Book to the Future for a nice, hot cup of tea and a spot of time travel.

For anyone new to Book to the Future, here’s the deal: I ask someone bookish to share with me a little bit about the book they’ve just read and the book they’re reading right now. I also get them to take a peek into their crystal ball and let me know what they’re planning to read next.

My guest for this edition of Past, Present and Future is none other than Annabel Smith, author of digital interactive novel, The Ark. Here’s what Annabel’s been reading…

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The last couple of months have been a reading wasteland for me, as I have worked every spare minute preparing for the publication of my novel The Ark. Now it is out in the world I’m very happy to get back to to my ridiculously enormous reading pile.

 

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I adored Meg Wolitzer’s The Interestings and have since been exploring her backlist, most recently with her novel The Ten-Year Nap, which explores the difficult line walked by working women who become parents.

I read a few reviews which dismissed the novel as the whining of privileged white women but I found it incredibly relatable and I respected Wolitzer’s willingness to tackle a subject which is so ordinary as to seem unworthy of being the subject for a novel. The timing was perfect actually, as in November, I’m lucky to be writer-in-residence at Katherine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre, and I’ll be starting a new novel which engages with similar themes, and draws on my experiences with post-natal depression.

 

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Yesterday I devoured Edan Lepucki’s debut novel California in one sitting. Set in a not-too-distant and easily imaginable future in which extreme weather events and environmental problems are making parts of the country uninhabitable, Cal & Frida create a new life for themselves in the wilderness. When Frida becomes pregnant they journey to a closed community, hoping to be accepted.

The novel is beautifully written and the day-to-day details of post-apocalyptic survival are fascinating, as are the dynamics of the communities that form under extreme conditions. California is also a very insightful portrayal of the ups and downs of marriage, especially under fraught circumstances.

Though the settings were quite different, in terms of themes I found many interesting parallels with my recently-published novel The Ark.

 

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For the third year in a row, I am taking part in the Australian Women Writers Challenge, in which I have challenged myself to read at least one book by an Australian female author each month.

I have just begun Emily Bitto’s The Strays, and am instantly beguiled by its gorgeous writing and sepia-toned depiction of childhood in the Melbourne of the 1930s.

Centred around the family of an artist, it looks like it is going to explore ‘bohemian parenting’ and female friendship and I can’t wait to see where it goes.

 

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Annabel SmSONY DSCith is the author of Whisky Charlie Foxtrot, and A New Map of the Universe, which was shortlisted for the WA Premier’s Book Awards. Her short fiction and non-fiction has been published in Southerly, Westerly, Wheeler Dailies and Junkee. She holds a PhD in Writing, is an Australia Council Creative Australia Fellow, and is a member of the editorial board of Margaret River Press. Her digital interactive novel/app The Ark has just been released. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.


Thank you so much for being a part of Past, Present and Future, Annabel! Congratulations on the launch of The Ark – here’s wishing it every success. Best of luck with the new novel…

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book to the future bookmarks 11 – the spring cleaning edition

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No, I can’t really believe it’s been close to two months since I last wrote anything either, but that’s how it goes.

Things are, of course, still piling up around me – the garden needs weeding, the house needs cleaning, books need reading and words need writing, but I’m getting there, one task at a time. Which is the only way to approach these things, really.

After a short, unintentional winter hibernation, I’m back, and it’s spring and I’m feeling better for the much-needed rest. I’ve even given Book to the Future a bit of a facelift. I hope you like it!

I know it’s not much of a Book to the Future Bookmarks post without a heap of links, but in the spirit of spring cleaning, I deleted my unread bookmarks. All five hundred and seventy two of them.

So, I’ll leave you with one link only this time around. But I promise, it’s a good’un.

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Zadie Smith. Image source here.

Very slowly a pair of profoundly blue eyes rose to meet Miss Adele’s own green contacts. The blue was unexpected, like the inner markings of some otherwise unremarkable butterfly, and the black lashes were wet and long and trembling. His voice, too, was the opposite of his wife’s, slow and deliberate, as if each word had been weighed against eternity before being chosen for use.

“You are speaking to me?”

“Yes, I’m speaking to you. I’m talking about customer service. Customer service. Ever hear of it? I am your customer. And I don’t appreciate being treated like something you picked up on your shoe!”

The husband sighed and rubbed at his left eye.

“I don’t understand – I say something to you? My wife, she says something to you?”

Miss Adele shifted her weight to her other hip and very briefly considered a retreat. It did sometimes happen, after all – she knew from experience – that is, when you spent a good amount of time alone – it did sometimes come to pass – when trying to decipher the signals of others – that sometimes you mistook–

Zadie Smith’s latest short story, Miss Adele Amidst the Corsets, has been shortlisted for the BBC’s National Short Story Award. It’s also, of course, amazing. It’s published in full right here. Make sure you put aside some time to read it – it’s a treat.

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I might not have been writing, but I’ve been reading constantly over the last couple of months. Last week, I finished Cracking the Spine, a collection of short stories accompanied by essays written by their authors, and I’ll be writing a review soon. I’m also slowly making my way through The Big Issue’s annual Fiction Edition, as well as catching up with my Review of Australian Fiction subscription (one of the smartest things I’ve done this year was subscribe to RAF). And, as if that’s not enough short stories, Australian Love Stories is right near the top my pile of books to read. I’ve been swimming in short stories, and I couldn’t be happier.

There are novels on my pile of books to review soon, too – like, for instance, Jessie Cole’s Deeper Water. Cole is the kind of writer who makes me forget I’m actually meant to be a reviewer; she pulls you into her world everything else just sort of falls away. But the novel you can expect to see reviewed next on Book to the Future…isn’t actually a novel at all. It’s a novella – Julie Proudfoot’s The Neighbour. I won’t say too much about The Neighbour. I’m saving it up for my review.

Anyway, this is all just a long, roundabout way of saying that life can be overwhelming, but stories, long and short, are the best way of escaping from it all.

I’ve got a lot of catching up to do, but it’s good to be back.

(One other thing: I’ve just added a heap of new blogs to my Required Reading list over in my sidebar. If you’re looking for links, that’s the ideal place to start!)

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