Monday, March 29, 2010

How do I read (or what I have been reading lately)

Naturally, this topic excites me, as I like to read, and read books no less (not a fan of magazines sad to say). Reading is a great passion of mine, and I often think it defines me as a person.

Beside my bed:

4 large psychology textbooks (for an essay)
When Elephants Weep: The emotional lives of animals by Jeffrey Masson
To the Is-land by Janet Frame
The Central Questions of Philosophy by A.J. Ajers
The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin
The War against Woman by Marilyn French
A Room of Ones Own by Virginia Woolf

I think that this selection represents how diverse I like to keep my reading material. I like biographies, science non-fiction, fiction, classic literature, philosophical non-fiction, feminist non-fiction, and so on.

At the moment, I am reading Slaughter House Five, which seems to be going well. I just finished Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys which is sort of an unofficial prelude to Jane Eyre. Before that was Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse which I have grown very fond of in retrospect. In fact, I really love Hermann Hesse, and I look forward to purchasing all of his books. I have also just ordered the complete Sherlock Holmes box set, which I can't wait to get.

It's true that I read a lot more in the holidays, and the only time I read books now is before bed, in a coffee shop, or at work (ahem, don't tell). I think that it's important to read when it feels natural, I do not think one should force themselves to read when it's the last thing they feel like doing.

I remember I was not such a big reader when I was a kid, I attempted to read the Hobbit in form 1 but failed miserably. I remember this girl at primary who was a friend of ours, and she would spend her morning teas and lunchtimes reading, just reading all the time. I wish that I could say that was me.

I think reading is important, it keeps our minds stimulated and most importantly, active! It improves our intelligence, (although that is an assumption, I should find some sort of official scientific evidence) is a relaxing pass time, can be informative, exciting, scary, and a million other things.

I am a bona fide book worm!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

how do you read (or, what I have been reading lately)

today I have to write a book review for class. the tricky thing for me will be to decide what voice to take, to decide how to write it. some people say that I write poor reviews, they just don't get it. as I am just warming up for the day, trying to motivate myself and get into the literary frame of mind, there is a topic that I want to discuss: reading.

I have been reading a lot lately and I must say it feels like quite an achievement. Because we don't often get the opportunity to just sit down and read, and if we do, sometimes it's hard to stay with a book and finish it. I have so many unread books in my collection that I have made a point of not buying any more until I read all the ones I already have. It's all very well to have an impressive collection, but more impressive to be able to say that you've read all the books in it. My plan was disrupted by the aforementioned class, though. Fortunately I have been on this reading kick and was able to devour two books in a weekend, and I haven't strayed too much from the plan.

This class of mine is called "literary non-fiction". Things like memoir, autobiography and biography fit nicely under this heading, as well as factual/historical fiction. It's quite a pertinent class for me, as I have great difficulty in separating my life from anything I write (or anything I write from my life). So the book that I am reviewing is written by David Carlin, actually a lecturer at RMIT, who is investigating the death of his father. His father committed suicide when he was only 6 months old, so although there are testimonies from relatives and medical records - real facts that inform the story, he often gets carried away with the possibilities of the story, what could have happened or led him to his death. Another book I have read for class is The Spare Room by Helen Garner. She reportedly made a big fuss about this book, insisting it's fiction, despite the undeniable similarities between Garner and the protagonist, Helen. Novel Helen takes care of her friend who is terminally ill with cancer, but deluded and in Melbourne for some experimental (read: crackpot) treatment, just as real life Helen did.

One thing I feel strongly about as a writer is communication. It's all about communicating stories that you feel are important or beautiful or interesting or funny or sad or brave or scary. Sometimes real life is the best place to find these stories. Sometimes they happen to other people who would just never write about them. Some people might not be able to write them.

I have also decided that I want to reread a lot of books, because all too often I read a book once and it "changes my life" (or really, I find some quotes in it that I like and change my quotations on facebook) but I have only read once. That's why I'm doing On The Road (this also happens to be literary non-fiction, I think) again. I have also, recently, been loaned a bunch of books. I think book loans are good incentive to read things immediately, especially if you respect the person who loaned it to you. You not only trust their judgement and are likely to enjoy the readin', but you also like them enough to return their book promptly.

Oftentimes I'll write lists of books that I want to read or finish reading - I do this almost monthly. Books I normally want to read are old and usually they'll be ones I've seen in secondhand bookstores or people talk about sometimes. It was weird for me reading those books for class because they were both published in the last 2 years and they're all new, sleek and glossy. There's no real rhyme or reason to my reading, I suppose if there was one it would just be READ MORE. The rationale behind Estelle Tang's 3000 books really gets to me sometimes (like how sometimes we talk about wanting to visit places or go places in our lifetime, I actually wonder whether I will travel as much as I say, what I will actually achieve): "The life expectancy for an Australian female is 83 years. 60 reading years left x 50 books [a year] = 3000 books."

Now ya'll tell me how you've been reading lately.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Thursday, March 18, 2010


I imagine in my mind the news reports about the end of the world

the media's game
"where were you at the end of the world? send your stories or videos to or tweet @endoftheworld. become a fan of end of the world on facebook to keep up with the latest news and events. seven news, with you til the end"

vox pops on tv - hungry beast style -
"where were you at the end of the world?"

"I was fucking that guy I play eye-sex with at the train station" (wanted to go out with a bang)
"I was finally telling my father how I feel"
"I was on the phone to mum for the first time in five years"
"I really quit smoking"
"I was doing a very satisfying poo"
"I was having a bath"
"I ran out into the street and started singing at the top of my lungs and everyone joined in because we knew we were going to die" (and if that was the case we wanted to go out in song)
"I cried because I hadn't read all the books that I wanted to read in my lifetime"
"I started throwing things around and tearing off all my clothing because I was so scared"
"I was hugging the closest person to me as tight as I could"
"I shot myself before the end"
"I went back to my parent's house to be near something comfortable"
"I put on my favourite clothes and had a beer in the backyard"
"I went to church and prayed to Jesus Christ to save me"
"My other miscellaneous faith allowed me to feel safe"
"I felt really completely insignificant for the first time in my whole life and I was so scared and I couldn't do anything about it"
"I told my wife I loved her and we held each other in bed for the last time"

and we're meant to feel sad or shocked or amused or whatever
but then we switch channels because it's just another report and maybe we can be amused by some shit Charlie Sheen sitcom for a little while before something good is on.

I guess in some ways this is a list of things I imagine we don't do in our every day life. Because really any day could be the end of the world? I'm waiting for the day I don't wake up. I'm a bit morbid maybe but it makes things a lot more interesting. Bathroom tiles, people, they fascinate me.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The End of the World as we know it

I often think about the end of the world, and it fills me with such fright and sorrow. A very specific feeling, it is. I remember last thinking about it when I was on my balcony, I just looked at everything; the road, the people, the trees, and I knew that they couldn't last. It made me realise that nothing is permanent.

Yesterday I was watching an episode of Doctor Who called The End of the World, where they gather to watch the Earth die, five billion years from now. In this episode, the Earth has been protected from the expansion of the sun by gravity satellites, until they run out of money and have to let nature take its course. Doctor Who makes me think a lot about the universe, and I don't usually like sci fi, but it seems somehow special to me.

It's hard for me not to think about the end of world, as it has never been so apparent that we are living on such a fragile planet. We are just one of the billions of species that have lived on this planet, this comparatively small planet with a delicate ecosystem and foolish inhabitants that are destroying that ecosystem. As I said before, this can't last.

If I happen to be alive at the end of the world, I will be afraid and I will be sad. But I also will be free.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


I know it's not technically my turn, but let's be untraditional!
I was walking around the other day and I thought

"where were you at the end of the world?"

something fictional (obviously - or not), autobiographical, biographical, satirical, documentary style.. anything, long or short, poetry or prose

if we have any readers at all it would be nice if they contributed their own little something

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

follow up: grow up

Ok I never posted my ideal dream job entry like I said I would.

I think the most important point that we've all learned is that now we are all "grown up" we don't have specific jobs that we want to do. We've all realised we'll never  become a ballet dancer or a fireman - or that those jobs aren't financially viable - and set our sights on more realistic goals, trying to be flexible about opportunities that come our way. M'colleague Stacey and I are good examples of this: rather than designating a specific role in an organisation, we both prefer to think of broad fields that we can work in, probably so we're not disappointed. At least that's my philosophy.

So basically I have realised that I want to work in arts. I want to produce or make radio, I want to write for anyone or anything (within reason) as long as it's creative to some extent. I have always been one of those people who don't want a mindnumbing 9-5 job - I think this is because my mum has never worked a full week in my lifetime - despite the financial difficulties I will encounter. I just can't stomach the idea of something so dull.

Anyway that's about all. Refer to my previous post on this subject for further details. I ended up writing a fairly successful cover letter. Now I'm going to try and write an artist's statement.

I want to plug something on here, also. I have to maintain a blog for university, and if you are at all interested in convergent and social media, check it