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Inspired women

The Guardian has a wonderful little piece that features five writers talking about the people, places and things that have inspired them. I am particularly fond of Michele Hanson’s story:

When I was 10 I was inspired by our vet, Miss Hilary. Here was the first woman I had ever seen wearing chap’s clothes. Fabulous. No horrid curls and sets, no frocks, no puff sleeves. Miss Hilary wore a shirt and tie, a waistcoat, a hacking jacket, jodphurs, riding boots and Brylcreem. She gave me a greyhound’s skull for my birthday, she told my mother off for telling me off, she was scared of nothing, not blood, not snot, not wild boars, not death, not even Mr Clanfield the fierce chicken farmer. She bred pugs and she drank whisky. Naturally, she made me want to be a vet. Looking back, I think she was secretly in love with my mother, and probably even braver than I had originally thought. In the early 50s, it was bold and outrageous to go around dressed like that in Ruislip. One could be shunned, screamed, spat and sneered at. Neither I, nor my mother, seemed to know what a lesbian was in those days, so my mother suggested Miss Hilary have a blow-wave, to give her hair body. Even then, Miss Hilary remained calm. What an achievement.


Taking my meds

Yes, I’m still here. I’ve been READING. I suggest you read this.

In order to be happy, I must have my daily dose of literature. In this I am no different from the patient who must take a spoonful of medicine each day. When I learned, as a child, that diabetics needed an injection every day, like most people, I felt bad for them; I may even have thought of them as half dead. My dependence on literature must make me “half dead” in the same way.

It’s Orhan Pamuk.

Colin Thiele

Colin ThieleColin Thiele, author of two of my childhood favourites (Storm Boy and Blue Fin) died yesterday aged 85. A few have already written some interesting things so go take a look:

Will add more as they appear.

Poetry biff

Last night I was chatting with a couple of people about how to get ‘teh kids’ to read poetry. A number of things were thrown up: the use of rap and other contemporary texts, whether the new poetry online project at Sydney will be a success, will people actually pay for individual poems and a very depressing “you can’t, they will never read it, it’s dead.”

Perhaps part of the answer lies on the front page of the SMH today: a good old-fashioned FIGHT. Though, they should possibly come up with more fearsome fighting words:

“So we more or less were saying, ‘Hey, we are going to storm your talks with signs written in red.’ That’s all. We were going to hold up signs saying ‘John Kinsella uses live bait’ – given he was a vegie [vegan] this would get at him. We were just going to disrupt his reading, because this is a pretty bad book from our point of view.

Writers and football. Heaven.

One of my favourite shirts

A confession: I am a sports lover. Another confession: I love very good sports writing. I’m not talking about the everyday write-ups you get on the back pages. I talking about writers making poetry about football. So you can imagine my delight when I saw that Gunter Grass has had a go at football for being too commercial. Oh bliss. Oh joy. Of course, he is correct but he is also fighting a losing battle.

Some of my favourite bits:

“I find the commercialisation of football terrible. There is no fair competition any more in Germany’s first and second division. This makes the competition for the championship boring,”

“I played – naturally – on the left wing. Almost immediately my knees started hurting,”

“He looks so beautifully melancholic, even when he scores a goal,”

Naturally, he supports St Pauli.

UPDATE: More at the Guardian about writers and football from the founder of the wonderful Philosophy Football. (That’s where I got the shirt pictured above).

Identity crises

There are two writers causing some consternation in the lit world at the moment. James Frey who, according to the Smoking Gun, seems to have made up a great swathe of his memoir A Million Little Pieces. The other is J.T.LeRoy.

Writers, truth, memoir and the postmodernist text. Discuss.

UPDATE: I have attempted to discuss this in greater detail at Larvatus Prodeo.

The real Charlotte

Charlotte Bronte was not staid and boring, apparently she was "a filthy, frustrated, sex-obsessed genius."