A few weeks ago I attended a Ballarat Writers workshop run by Alison Arnold from Text Publishing and Cath Crowley, young adult author. The day previous Cath Crowley had won the Prime Ministers Literary Award for Young Adult writing, for her novel Graffiti Moon. The class was instantly excited when Alison told us about Cath’s success, and I have to give her credit for turning up so bright eyed the day after the announcement (if that was me I would have had a champagne headache to say the least.) Continue reading →
Tag / Australian Literature
Last week Geraldine Brook’s new novel Caleb’s Crossing made it to number 1 on the Independent books top 10 list.* It was released on May 3.
It’s fantastic that an Australian female author, who writes historical fiction has made it to number 1 in such a short amount of time, and plays into the recent debate about literary awards, chick lit (or perceived chick lit) and the ongoing saga of historical fiction not selling well. Continue reading →
The Female Eunuch – 40 years later
2010 was the 40th anniversary of Germaine Greer’s The Female Eunuch. I decided to use the occasion to re-read the book and write a post about my thoughts. That was in November. The problem is that when I had finished I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to say. In conjunction with the The Female Eunuch I also read An Untamed Shrew, Greer’s unauthorised biography written by Christine Wallace. And of course at the start of the year I read that Louis Nowra piece in The Monthly.
I’ve been perplexed about which approach to take when writing the piece. An encompassing history of what the book means to Australian women? An historical perspective? The book’s flaws? All of these approaches felt too wide, so I have decided to write about my own relationship with the book. Continue reading →
Utopian Man by Lisa Lang
I’m in love with a novel, with a story and with a character. I’ve just finished Lisa Lang’s Utopian Man (published by Allen and Unwin 2010). I have written previously about attending her launch and my excitement about reading the book. I had read Lang’s Chasing the Rainbow, a brilliant little book published by Arcade publishing. When I saw that Utopian Man had won the Australian/Vogel award I locked the launch in my diary and made sure I was there.
I have finally had a chance to read the novel and I think it’s wonderful. I feel like shouting the story of Edward Cole from the rooftops of Bourke Street and forcing people to listen. I feel like setting up a memorial day and forcing people to celebrate the magic of what was Cole’s Book Arcade. When I think of the hoards that loaf through Bourke Street during the Christmas period I feel like shouting “what if it could feel like Christmas every day but without the religious sentiment and the brash commercialism, without the guilt of necessity of purchase. This is what we once had in Melbourne, right here, but no one seems to remember.” Perhaps that is what I loved about this book, it has inspired me to love, to feel nostalgic, to feel anger, it’s inspired me to feel. Continue reading →
Aussie YA fiction
I’ve recently been thrown back into the world of Young Adult (YA) novels. I am a fan, but I don’t often read them. But a few things in the last few weeks have got me thinking about the importance of YA novels in Australia.
Boomerang Books released the results from their survey on the most popular Aussie novels, not based on sales, but on a survey where readers indicated which novels they had read in their entirety. I’ve detailed the top 24 below but the entire list is worth a look. Continue reading →
Kristel Thornell – Night Street
Kristel Thornell’s Night Street is a fictitious imagining of the life of tonalist painter Clarice Beckett. Released this year after winning the 2009 Australian/Vogel award the novel is commonly viewed as being more biographical than fictional. Clarice Beckett was a young tonalist artist who studied under Frederick McCubbin then under Max Meldrum. Beckett’s works are now widely lauded and can be seen in collections in the National Gallery, various state galleries, and regional galleries such as Castlemaine and Ballarat. However Thornell is clear to point out in the Author’s note in the conclusion of the novel, “The Clarice who appears in this work is not Clarice Beckett (1887-1935) but my imagining of her. While the historical figure’s art and life inspired me, I took many creative liberties with these.”
I was eager to read this novel for a few reasons. I am a fan of Beckett’s work, after learning about the tonalist movement via the family history of my partner, who is related to Percy Leason, tonalist and political satirist. Another reason I was interested in reading this novel was because I am working on a novel where the protagonist is a female artist, albeit 70 years earlier, based in Melbourne. Continue reading →
Going Down Swinging Launch
Paul Kelly – How to Make Gravy
In his book In Sunshine or in Shadow, Martin Flanagan says of Paul Kelly:
The generation of singer-songwriters of which he is the best known member are to the 1980s and ‘90s what the Bulletin poets were a century before, the people who travelled this land, collecting its stories, and singing them into the consciousness of the people.
This comparison resonates with me, but I would go one step further. Continue reading →
More than football – Melbourne’s History
This week I went to the book launch of Lisa Lang’s Utopian Man. It is a fictional re-imagining of the life of E.W. Cole, the creator of the wonderful Cole’s Book Arcade. The arcade began as a small second-hand book stall in the Eastern Market in 1865 and eventually became an Arcade from Bourke Street through to Collins Street, closing in 1931. Within that time the arcade included its own press, which produced the famous Cole’s Funny Picture Books, its own set of coins, a cage of monkeys and a Chinese tea salon to name just a few of wild and wonderful things. Continue reading →