tsundoku

46365aBooks – read and unread – half-finished mugs of tea, emails, plans, long overdue conversations. Things are piling up in great waves around me, pulling me in, slowly sucking the sand from beneath my feet.

I’m taking a break from my usual Bookmarks and Past, Present and Future posts for a couple of weeks. I need to catch up on reviewing books, get myself organised – and take a few big, deep lungfuls of air before I plunge back into the swell.

past, present and future with daniel young

ppandbttftinctureimageIt’s time again – time for Past, Present and Future, the fortnightly blog post in which I invite a very special guest to grab a cup of tea and come time travelling with me. The idea is really simple – I ask someone bookish to share with me a little bit about the book they’ve just read, the book they’re reading right now, and the book they’re planning to read next. No crystal ball required.

Joining me on the blog this fortnight, it’s editor of Tincture Journal, Daniel Young. Let’s find out what Daniel’s been reading…


Past

The team at Writers Bloc have been running book clubs in Sydney, and the book I’ve just finished was our selection for the July Cult Classics book club. These clubs are now also being run online, so you can join the Facebook group if you are interested in discussing interesting new books, journals and TV shows with like-minded people. So far we’ve read One Hundred Years of Solitude, Slaughterhouse Five, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter and The House of Mirth. There is also a Bright Young Things book club, but I’m unable to keep pace, although I did manage to sneak in Holly Childs’ recent novella, No Limits.

This month we’ve read Elizabeth Harrower’s The Watch Tower. I had suggested the-watch-towerreading something by Harrower without really knowing too much about her: just some vague awareness that her out-of-print books were being revived by Text Classics and that her work was much admired by the likes of Patrick White. It was another book club member who suggested we start with The Watch Tower and I’m very glad we did.

This is a beautifully written book that captures the horrifying realities of psychological abuse that can be hidden among us in everyday life. Set in World War II on Sydney’s north shore, the book constantly shifts between the perspectives of two sisters, Laura and Claire, and their life with Laura’s husband Felix. There is a depth of psychological insight here that serves as a fine example of what novels can do that other forms cannot:

She had a sensation of having mislaid a vital pleasure that she could not quite remember, or a piece of herself. There was nothing to dream!

This book could be described as a domestic drama, but it’s an intense and satisfying read that will remain with me for a long time. Essential Australian literature.

Present

I’ve just started reading Bark, the latest collection by Lorrie Moore. I bought it about a
month ago and it rose very quickly to the top of my reading list for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I’m basically a sucker for short stories and it seemed like a lighter choice after reading The Watch Tower. Secondly, Lorrie was interviewed recently on the KCRW Bookworm podcast and this piqued my interest to delve more deeply into her stories. So far I’ve only read the first story, Debarking:

barkBut this, the Spam postcard and the note, he felt contained the correct mix of offhandedness and intent. This elusive mix—the geometric halfway point between stalker and Rip van Winkle—was important to get right in the world of middle-aged dating, he suspected, though what did he really know of this world? It had been so long, the whole thing seemed a kind of distant civilization, a planet of the apings!—graying, human flotsam with scorched internal landscapes mimicking the young, picking up where they had left off decades ago, if only they could recall where the hell that was.

The deft mix of humour and truth is so far an intoxicating one. While I’ve encountered a few of her individual stories around the place, I hadn’t yet read one of her full collections and don’t yet have a good sense of her oeuvre. So far so good!

Future

Things get tricky here because my “to-read” pile is almost taller than my coffee table (and that doesn’t count the ebooks, magazines and lit journals!). I’m also knee-deep in submissions for Issue Seven of Tincture Journal and it’s really about time I bedded down the content and started the editing process. Then there’s my own writing, including an impending historical fiction assignment, which is really going to need more attention in the coming weeks.

the-big-sleepHowever: there are two main contenders for my next read and the choice will come down to timing. Firstly, I really want to read The Sleepers Almanac No. 9. These collections of short fiction, published by Sleepers Publishing, are always full of brilliant new Australian writing and I’ve been meaning to get to this latest volume since it came out in April.

The next novel in my list will probably by The Big Sleep, by Raymond Chandler—another book club selection! I’m super excited that I’ll finally have a reason to get into some Chandler: my own little hard-boiled wonderland on the couch.


Daniel Young is a reader, writer, editor and software developer from Brisbane, currently living in Sydney. He is the founder and editor of Tincture Journal, and his short fiction has been published in Hello Mr. Magazine, Cuttings Journal and in Seizure‘s Flashers project. He is struggling to write a novel while studying a Master of Arts in Writing. You can find him on Twitter @jazir1979.


Thank you Daniel, and happy reading. I’m bumping The Watch Tower further towards the top of my To Read pile! If you’re not already aware of Tincture, make sure you click the link above and go take a look.

I spent most of last week freaking out about all the writing I have to do at the moment, then when I sat down and wrote a list of everything on my plate…it wasn’t actually as overwhelming as I thought. Also, I need to learn that panicking about deadlines, strangely enough, doesn’t make them go away.

Writing is happening. With a little luck, I’ll have a new review online very soon.

past, present and future with julie proudfoot

ppandbttf

the-neighbourPast, Present and Future is the fortnightly series of posts in which I invite a very special guest to grab a cup of tea and come time travelling with me. I ask someone bookish to tell me about a book from their past, the book they’re reading now, and a book they’re planning to read soon. Hence the name – past, present and future.

It seems pretty much everyone’s talking about this fortnight’s guest, Julie Proudfoot. She’s the author of The Neighbour – one of four novellas published as a part of Seizure’s second Viva la Novella competition. Here’s what Julie’s been reading.


I love a good exploration of the psyche, especially by Australian women, with that jolleyessence of Australia that you won’t find anywhere else: honesty and courage. The Man Who Loved Children by Christina Stead, anything by Charlotte Wood, Kate Grenville, Margo Lanagan, and, always Elizabeth Jolley. I used to wonder about those layers of personality and emotion that Jolley put into her characters, what did she draw on? And now, after her passing, and new stories about Elizabeth Jolley have surfaced, it all makes sense.

I was lucky enough to interview her once for an American magazine. My instructions were to interview high profile authors. When I snapped the Elizabeth Jolley interview I was super excited (this WAS in the Eighties) but when I put it to the editors their response was that nobody in America had heard of her. So they didn’t print it. I have it on my blog now, and the most blissful part about it all was that due to Jolley’s hectic schedule at the time we ended up doing the interview rabbits weddingby letter. (She wasn’t a fan of email.) Her assistant was on holiday so she hand-wrote the letter with the answers, and I still have that now. Anyway, did I cry the day she passed…

I can’t speak of the past without a nod to the first book I ever loved. It was given to me by my Nanna. Nanna would purchase a huge pile of tumbling books every Christmas that she placed on a trestle table for all the cousins to choose from, and we’d take it to her for her to write in. The one I love is The Rabbits’ Wedding. I love rabbits, have had many as pets, and I always weep like a sooky at weddings.

Present

This very minute I’m in deep with Anna Krien’s Night Games. I’m reading it for Kirsten nightgamesKrauth’s book club. I’m only four chapters in, and already I’m feeling uncomfortable. It’s about sex, consent and power within sport. The book centres on a rape trial after an incident that occurred during celebrations after an AFL Grand Final. We all know the kind of story; we’ve cringed as they’re displayed on our screens. It reminds me of Helen Garner’s The First Stone the way it teases out the issues that no one wants to talk about; a powerful theme. I don’t want football ruined by this stuff, but it needs to be exposed.

I’m also reading three books for a panel I’m chairing at the Bendigo Writers Festival in August entitled Girl You’ll Be A Woman Soon: Kirsten Krauth’s just_a_girl, Jenny Valentish’s Cherry Bomb, and Nicole Hayes’ The Whole of My World. Each is sweet, gutsy and loveable in its own way – the books and the authors!

Future

Dawn Barker’s Fractured waits patiently on my tall to-read pile, and I’m so looking forward to it, but I needprivacy to get on it quick because her second book has just been released. I love a good psychological analysis and that’s what I’m led to believe Fractured is, among other themes.

Genna De Bont’s Privacy is waiting on my Kindle, it’s based in country Victoria, and I love that about it. The blurb says it all to me:

For readers of thought-provoking literary fiction, this is a novel that challenges the boundaries between snooping and surveillance.

…how can you not read that?

Okay, also in my future is a book that is an interactive app. Annabel Smith’s third book,the ark The Ark, is due out in September. It’s to be published not only as an e-book, but as an interactive app. What will this mean? Who knows, but I’m looking forward to finding out, come on September!

Last month I picked up The Loud Earth by Elisabeth Murray at The Novella Prize event at the Emerging Writer’s Festival. Elisabeth began her reading by saying ‘I’m going to lower the tone of the room now,’ with that I was hooked! I was lucky enough to chat with Elisabeth afterwards and sign each other’s books, which has to be one of the coolest things for writers to do.

I’ve opened up Murray’s book, and pulled out a sentence or two to show off, and if this is anything to go by we’re in for a ride.

…I heard her moving about, small movements that I
had taken for granted so many evenings but that could have brought me to tears. Then silence. The storm was brutal and I didn’t want it to end. It was keeping her here. It was tying her hands behind her back and gagging her with cloth…It got late. There was all this silence in the house. The blood on the floor. It was dark and they wanted me.

loudearth


Julie Proudfoot’s first novel, The Neighbour, was recently published and announced as winner of the Seizure Viva La Novella Prize 2014. She will be appearing at The Bendigo Writers Festival this year as chair of the panel, Girl You’ll Be a Woman Soon and will also be hosting the official launch of The Neighbour, a free event, all welcome. Julie blogs at http://proudfootblog.com/ and you can follow her on twitter @ProudMumbles


Thanks Julie! All of these books sound excellent. Here’s a link to the Bendigo Writers Festival website, where you can find out more about Julie’s panel (I wish I could go!).

2014 – angela meyer ~ captives

captives

Captives is slightly larger in size than Paul Wilson’s ‘miniature’, The Little Book of Calm – however, if you’re looking for anything calm in these 112 pages, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. The Little Book of Unheimlich would have made a fitting subtitle for Meyer’s collection of 37 captivating microfictions – short works of anything between a single paragraph and a few pages, each bound together by a shared sense of deep disquietude. 

Scuttle over to Newtown Review of Books and read the rest of my review of Angela Meyer’s Captives – a deceptively cute little book about dark, dark things.

More? But of course. Here’s an interview with Angela Meyer by Daniel Young from Tincture Journal about the publication of Captives – as well as writing in a more general sense.

(Coincidentally, happy birthday for today, Franz Kafka! I didn’t have any cockroaches on hand, so ladybeetles will have to do…)