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.

book to the future bookmarks #2

bookmarksiiiWelcome to edition number two of Book to the Future Bookmarks, a new series of fortnightly posts in which I share some of the many, many links I’ve saved to my bookmarks folder.

I started my first Bookmarks post with a huge picture of current crush, Benedingle Cumberwhatsit Benedict Cumberbatch. But in the grand scheme of things, what’s a mere crush compared to true literary lurve? Nothing! It seems only fitting that I begin the second edition of Bookmarks with…

Original image source here
Original image source here.

…Zadie Smith, of course. If you haven’t already read Zadie’s latest short story, Moonlit Landscape with Bridge, over on the New Yorker’s website, you’re missing out. Here’s a little sample:

“…But he remembered two young men bent over one battered paperback, under a tree in the cleared center of a village. Books had been important back then—they were always quoting from them. Long-haired boys, big ideas. These days, all the Prime Minister read was his bank statements.”

I enjoyed Smith’s novella, The Embassy of Cambodia, released late last year…but it left me feeling a little unsatisfied. I’m not sure whether this was because Smith left the story at a point where I desperately wanted to know what happened next, or whether I was just eager for something longer. Possibly both. Personally, I have my fingers crossed that Zadie (we’re on first name basis) is working on a collection of short fiction…

Anyway. Enough wishful thinking. You can read more about Moonlit Landscape here.

The 2014 Stella Prize longlist is out! The Stella is Australia’s most exciting literary award (and they got it so, so right last year, with Carrie Tiffany’s brilliant Mateship with Birds taking out the inaugural prize). Given the number of Big Novels released by Australian men towards the end of last year (think Alex Miller, Tim Winton, Christos Tsiolkas…), it’s great that the Stella Prize is on the case, making sure that writing by Australian women doesn’t go unrecognised.

…However, I’m yet to read any of the longlisted novels, so I’d better get a wriggle on! Luckily, there’s a review roundup over at the Australian Women Writers Challenge blog.

If you’ve ever wanted to flash Melbourne’s Federation Square, here’s your chance. The wonderful people at Spineless Wonders are looking for flash fiction to grace the big screen at Fed Square during the Melbourne Writers’ Festival this year…why, what did you think I meant? Writers can find out more about the project here.

Look, I know I mentioned Ryan O’Neill in my first Bookmarks post…and the post before that…and I’m beginning to sound like some kind of crazed stalker (sorry) but I’m really enjoying The Drover’s Wives project over at Seizure. O’Neill has taken Henry Lawson’s classic short story, The Drover’s Wife and is re-working it in sixty different ways. So far, The Drover’s Wife has become a self-published book cover, an absurdist play, a horoscope and more. Sadly, not all of the pieces are free to read, but here’s a link to the project so far.

underground

I’m kind of obsessed with these stunning 1920s posters advertising the London Underground. I love them almost as much as I love this collection of sarcastic, witty, puerile – and, ultimately fake Underground signs. Genius. Get me to London, pronto.

I’ve mentioned my longstanding adoration for Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince on this blog an embarrassing number of times. When I spotted this article at Brain Pickings about Saint-Exupéry’s manuscript for the book, including the author’s original watercolour illustrations, I was, naturally, all over it. Whether you’re a fan of The Little Prince or not, these illustrations are beautiful. And this, from the accompanying article:

“In April of 1943, shortly after the book came out, 43-year-old Saint-Exupéry shoved his Little Prince manuscripts and drawings in a brown paper bag, handing it to his friend Silvia Hamilton — “I’d like to give you something splendid,” he told her, “but this is all I have.” — and departed for Algiers as a military pilot with the Free French Air Force.”

Just reading this short piece on Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex made me feel like picking de Beauvoir’s masterwork up again.  I read The Second Sex for for the first time at around the same age as the author of this article, greedily devouring the entire thing over the course of a single weekend.

From France back to Melbourne: Readings has announced a duo of new literary awards. Can we ever have too many literary awards? Somehow, I don’t think so.

And finally, my favourite discovery of the past fortnight is Poet Deploriate.

Other Things I’ve Been Reading…

the-line-of-beautyI’ve been kind of wrapped up with work the past week or so, and haven’t had as much time for reading as I’d have liked…

In my first Bookmarks post, I mentioned I was reading Alan Hollinghurst’s The Line of Beauty. I drew my reading out as long as I possibly could because I really didn’t want the book to be over. I think it’s kind of appropriate that I read this novel immediately after The Swimming-Pool Library. They work well together.

An odd coincidence: The Paris Review just happened to tweet their Art of Fiction interview with Alan Hollinghurst from 2011 the other day.

Unfortunately, I’ve got no time left to explore more of Hollinghurst’s writing. I’ve got a huge pile of books that has accumulated next to my keyboard, waiting to be read. Also, my ereader is full of unread things, all jostling for my attention.

But the good news? I’ve managed to get a heap of time off work, and I’ve got little else to do but catch up on my (many) unwritten reviews and work my way through the pile of books accumulating on my desk.

My next Bookmarks post is going to be huge. Meanwhile, thanks for reading!

bookmarksimagetwo