Archive | April 2005

The girl on the bookmobile

A little silly but I couldn’t resist. I give you for your viewing pleasure: Library Career Romances.

Girl_1It was a trimly built van like conveyance. At the rear, the doors swung open to show a miniature room equipped with shelves already stocked with books, a tiny desk and racks clipped wherever a stray space presented itself.

“It’s darling! I had no idea you could get so much into such a small space.”

Bookish personals

Boing Boing have pointed out the LRB’s personals, and seem to express surprise that those who would read such a journal produce ‘steamy’ copy. Of course, this sort of thing is old news, hell, someone has written a book about her affairs resulting from personals placed in the NYRB (I think, and when I remember I will find a link).

Still, I’m going to quote a few here for your viewing pleasure:

I am the type of female that is thrilled by the
tempestuous passions of a slightly mysterious swashbuckling financier
who makes his living outfoxing corrupt capitalists and bullying
bureaucrats then occasionally pulls away from the tumult in the Grand
Cayman Islands. Box no. 07/04

Massive-breasted heiress, 38, seeks witty Nobel-awarded
intellectual beef-cake gardener-chef-poet with stonking pecs. Like me,
you are dynamic, hilarious, serious, ironic, passionate, practical,
affectionate, kind, funny, have most of your own legs, and are startled
to find yourself still cruising the aisles of the Lurve Bazaar. Unlike
me, you don’t exist. Am I right? If so, will consider any M who can
make conversation, sense, a living, friends, four cooked meals, hot
love and me laugh. Box no. 07/01

I’ve committed every decorating sin listed in the
March edition of Elle Decoration and I’m proud. M., 41, with carpeted
bathroom, artex ceilings and a wealth of porcelain shepherdesses seeks
laminate-crazy woman to 45 for nights of painting the hallway magnolia.
And after that, insane sex in front of my MDF mock-Victorian TV cabinet
(I’ll polish the brass handles just for you). Box no. 07/05

Sydney Writer’s Festival program is out

One reason why the SMH’s new Spectrum seemed even meatier today was the inclusion of the Sydney Writer’s Festival program. A few things of interest which I shall list below. I have one thing to say though, for a librarian that Nancy Pearl sure gets around. I think I counted no less than FOUR appearances by her. Go Nancy. I’m sure sales of the Nancy Pearl Action Doll will skyrocket. That is if some humourless librarian* doesn’t confiscate the stock first…

My highlights for the festival (and bear in mind that these things are always incredibly subjective and so I expect you to yawn at some of my selections):

May 24
Speak Proper

May 25
Helen Garner

May 26
Literary publishing around the world
The Librarian and the Action Doll (Nancy Pearl)
Poetry reading (including Les Murray)
Calling all librarians (Nancy Pearl)

May 27
Travels with Turgenev (Robert Dessaix)
Deirdre Bair in conversation
Joe Cinque’s Consolation (Helen Garner AND Mary Kostikidis)
Book Lust (yep, it’s Nancy Pearl)
From Life to the Page (Caryl Phillips)

May 28
Harold Bloom – the school of resentment
Poetry and translation (including Les Murray
A writer’s life (Helen Garner)
The writer and the librarian (Guess who?)
Politics and the novel
Stimulating debate and building talent (about lit magazines, journals etc)
Why writer’s lie
The line of beauty (Alan Hollinghurst and Robert Dessaix)

May 29
The New Matilda (Blogs! Online forums! Ezines! I think they’re talking about us!)
Pho Noodle Soup (Mmmm, pho).
Czeslaw Milosz – a tribute
Henry James (he’s what all the with-it writers are wearing these days…)

* I am allowed to poke fun at librarians as there are no less than 6 librarians over two generations in my family. My mother can vouch for this, can’t you Mum?

Reading in the smallest room

I’ve got my broadband back, all is right with the world.

I’ve got a lot of catching up to do, my Mum’s bookclub is reading a new book and I haven’t updated their image, will get to that tomorrow Mum.

It’s Saturday and the papers are hefty so I will start with the SMH‘s new Spectrum. They’ve reverted to the tabloid format and I for one am pleased. I always enjoy reading their competitor, the Review section of the Australian which has seemed meatier than the SMH’s arts offering of late.  I find the tabloid format suited to the material, I can take it to bed, I can take it out the back when I’m indulging in that filthy habit and I can take it comfortably to the, ahem, ladies.

The new Spectrum seems thicker and more substantial than the old tabloid Spectrum and the more recent broadsheet one but this is probably only because the SMH have combined Spectrum and the Metropolitan section and hoped none of us would notice. I have to admit to a certain satisfaction with the new format though. And I just realised how sad I am that I sit around and think about the merits of the formats of the arts sections of various newpapers.

Moving house

Have just moved house. No broadband connection at home as yet. Can’t blog. Will be back soon.

In the meantime, check out the things Zoe didn’t buy at the Canberra bookfair.

An idea for the NRL perhaps?

I couldn’t resist mentioning this. I love my football (that’s Johnny Warren’s football thank you very much) and on the day when my Liverpool hold a slender lead over Juventus after the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie I would like to point you to Reading the Game. Premier League stars partner up with libraries in an effort to get kids reading. Each club nominates a ‘reading champion’ who in turn nominates a book that is added to the reading list for the year.

Sell when your IQ reaches 40

In one of the comments in the Favourite character post the question was raised: why no female lovable idiots? Reading the comments it was noted that a few utterly hopeless characters were loved, despite their flaws, their lack of intelligence, their utter, ‘blondeness’. They were all male.

So I tried to come up with a lovable nincompoop who was a woman. I couldn’t do it. I could think of female ditzes from the movies (who can resist Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde?), but none in books that really stayed with me. So, I can deal with a stupid bloke but stupid women are just, well, stupid.

Then lo and behold Shelley Gare writes of the Triumph of the Airheads in the Australian this weekend just gone. (Sorry can’t find a link). I read that article and thought ‘Oh yes’. You are so right, that is just so, like, how it is, you know what I mean.

We can’t stand our fictional women to be airheads but there is an apparent trend in wanting to appear ‘blonde’ ourselves (and yes for those who know about my hair-dying predilection, I appreciate the irony). Well, when I say ‘we’ I mean the population in general, not those who read book blogs.

Women have always acted well below their IQ, it was not the done thing to appear brighter than your bloke, even if you were. But surely things have changed? Apparently not. And now it’s not just the women who are dumbing down for show. Men do it too. The ‘dumb’ bloke has become a badge, a ‘type’ that is cultured. If you’ve ever seen that television program late on Channel 10 – Blokesworld – you will know what I mean. Drinking beer, leering at women and watching cars go round a track again and again has become a studied persona. Call it backlash but I think it’s more than that.

I don’t know why, I don’t even want to start thinking about why it’s cool to be dumb. It’s probably related to the reason ‘self-help’ books are bought by the pallet when those traditional self-help texts – novels – are ignored (unless they’re written by Dan Brown). You can see it in management-speak, you can see it in the way our Government treats Higher Ed, you can see it in the trend towards vocational education and the focus on the end product instead of learning for learning’s sake.  It’s bloody depressing and it’s even worse that complaining about it is only likely to lead me being labelled ‘elitist’.

I’m going to read a book. Maybe even a poetry book. Goodnight.

But before I go: the Guardian has a quiz to test your knowledge of literary fools.