Well, I can barely catch my own breath at the moment. It’s all things proofing at my house, and looking at blurbs. My wonderful editor has sent me the proofed pages, and while they are quite ‘clean’ (dig the lingo, baby), I want to go through carefully. It’s the last chance.
My reading continues apace. That never stops for anything.
I think the last book I talked about was #22 for the year, Rochelle Siemienowicz’s fabulous FALLEN, a memoir.
23: Anchor Point, Alice Robinson
24: The Adventures of Holly White and the Incredible Sex Machine, Krissy Kneen. I’ve really enjoyed Kneen’s books, particularly her memoir Affection and her fiction Triptych. I love Krissy’s writing, but I’m not a person drawn to reading about sex. That’s testament to how well I think Kneen writes, that I will read all her stuff even though a lot of it is about sex. (A lot? Most? All?) I think with Holly White, I liked most the inventiveness of it, the wild and crazy elements where things just go nuts.
I went to the launch with Kneen being interviewed by Christos Tsiolkas. He said he found it arousing, but I didn’t once. (I have found other parts of Krissy’s writing sexy but I’m not going to say what, oh alright, it was the octopus.) I think Krissy Kneen is a real talent and I think I will always read what she publishes.
25: The Wonder Lover, Malcolm Knox. I LOVED THIS. It’s my read of the year, if not longer, and it will be a hard press for another book to nudge this one out of the top spot for me. It reminded me of the best of what I love about some of my favourite authors (early John Irving, early Peter Carey) but it’s so original and different. I adored it.
26: Lucky Us, Amy Bloom. This was a funny book, not as in ha-ha. As in different and bit odd. I found it readable and never boring. I wondered at the form, and the structure. I wondered, too, at the points of view chosen, and the voices. I think it all worked, for me it didn’t not work, but still, I felt a wriggle of dissatisfaction but I’m not sure why. It’s funny and sad, at times not credible (according to my book group – I’m more forgiving of whether something’s outlandish. I like outlandish. For me I think character emotions and motivations have to ring true, but I’m quite happy to go with weird coincidences and crazy stuff.) At book club we talked about themes. Whether it’s about reinvention, transformation. I thought it was about people behaving badly, and behaving well. It seemed quite fragmented though, another reason why it was a little tricky to drill down for me.
27. The True Gen, Denis Brian. This is a Hemingway book and what a great read. It’s a bio but presented in a really interesting way, with snippets of interviews with a whole bunch of people, arranged around times of his life, or incidents. Some people saying ‘he was great, sweet, a kitten’ and others saying ‘he was a terrible person, cruel and arrogant’. I love reading about Hemingway.
Finally, to a film. Mad Max, Fury Road. I saw it last night and have been thinking about it almost non-stop ever since. If you’ve heard good things about this movie, and been surprised by that, thinking ‘oh it’s propaganda and hype’ then I urge you: No. It’s pretty freaking amazing and I’m not talking about ‘the action’ though that is relentless and awesome and violent and confronting. This is a movie that is a work of art (the aesthetics are incredible) and it’s probably a masterpiece and is going to be one of those films that is an instant classic (no, I can’t think of another one. It’s that unique.)
It’s beautifully shot, the colours are amazing, the setting wide and wild. It’s thematically rich and interesting: redemption, revenge, females in front of the action, in the middle of the action, in the thick of it, driving it. And a whole bunch of female characters, of all ages and beauties and capabilities. It’s a display of stunning inventiveness; from the vehicles being driven through the desert to the apparel the characters wear. It moves fast, so fast you can barely breathe, but it’s dense and packed with meaning (which is why I want to see it again, and also with subtitles, though I’m not sure how much dialogue I missed. Apparently, one aim of the makers of the movie was that it could be ‘seen in Japan with no subtitles and the audience would understand everything). So it’s dense and detailed visually but stripped back narrative-wise, so there is little dialogue, no set-up, you are launched into the situation, and have to fill in gaps, make assumptions. It’s beautiful storytelling in that way (how I like to read books, not being told everything). I recommend it with the same fervour that I recommend The Wonder Lover by Malcolm Knox. It won’t be for everyone, some people might find it boring, but I found it completely fascinating and wondrous.