This is for all the librarians in my family.
Aunty’s latest cultural vehicle was launched last night: First Tuesday Bookclub.
As an Australian (alleged) book blogger I thought I better put up a few thoughts or you all might think I was hopelessly out of touch.
I was quite excited by the prosepct of a bunch of people getting together and talking about books. On telly. What exicted me was that there was the promise that there would be more than academic theory and criticism of said books. I get enough of that. I have listened to my mother’s tales of her bookclub and as she says, the best thing about them is that you get a group of people from wildly varying backgrounds. Some of them have studied literature, some of them have studied hairdressing, some haven’t studied at all. From what is probably termed in these Howardian times as an ‘elitist’ point of view, it is good to talk about books with people who really should know nothing about them.
So I was quite pleased to see that the group gathered by the ABC weren’t your usual suspects. Sure, there was a literary editor but there was also an actress, a screen writer (and blogger) and a host of a gardening show. On the face of it not that exciting but eventually the mix seemed to work.
If I had actually (ahem) read the books the panel discussed I suspect the show would have been even more interesting. Well, that’s what I thought in the first half. Perhaps The Ballad of Desmond Kale didn’t lend itself to heated discussion or it may have been first night nerves but you suspected that all panellists were feeling their way and as television it was pedestrian. (And I was just waiting for Hardy to throw in a few effs, that would have really got things going). When Jennifer Byrne introduced her nomination for ‘a classic’, things really started to work.
I don’t know if she actually believes American Psycho should be elevated to ‘classic’ status (let’s face it, the same themes were already done to death in Less Than Zero, just with less blood). No matter, the choice made good tv. And that is probably what is going to make this series. Sure, the choice of panel is crucial but the choice of book must be even more shrewd. It has to be literary to satisfy the more literary of us but it also has to inspire discussion. One can afford to have an off day at the local bookclub (there’s always wine) but on tv you don’t get another chance.
The stars of the show were undoubtedly American Psycho and Peter Cundall. His passion made you want to keep watching. It made decent television, never mind whether he actually understood the book or not. And that is what such a show requires. Of course, there’s always going to be the bookworms who tune in, if only to turn up their snooty noses. It’s dragging the bookless into the program that really counts. To see someone who is usually telling us when to prune roses and deliver manure railing against a book, talking passionately about books and holding conversation with others of such diverse backgrounds is a good thing. And that, I guess, it what book clubs are all about. Don’t believe those who tell you the book is dead.
* Peter Cundall said this about American Psycho, I actually enjoyed the show.
I am not a huge fan of the flicks and I am very resistant to film versions of books, especially ones that I love. I read books, build up a picture in my head of how it all works, what it all looks like, and then some film blows it all out of the water and becomes the dominant image. (Ripley was NOT blonde, and he sure didn’t look like Matt Damon.) I hate this. So, I refuse, unless under extreme circumstances, to watch films made from my favourite books. (If they ever make a movie of The Reader I swear, I will top myself).
Anyway, despite all this, I would like to point out that the Guardian is organising some vote for the best film adaptations of books. They have organised a list of 50 that the (British?) public will vote on and a winner will be declared. The list is:
Alice in Wonderland
Breakfast at Tiffany’s
Charlie & the Chocolate Factory
A Clockwork Orange
Close Range (inc Brokeback Mountain)
The Day of the Triffids
Devil in a Blue Dress
Different Seasons (inc The Shawshank Redemption)
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (aka Bladerunner)
Empire of the Sun
The English Patient
The French Lieutenant’s Woman
Heart of Darkness (aka Apocalypse Now)
The Hound of the Baskervilles
The Jungle Book
A Kestrel for a Knave (aka Kes)
Les Liaisons Dangereuses
Lord of the Flies
The Maltese Falcon
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Pride and Prejudice
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
The Railway Children
The Remains of the Day
Schindler’s Ark (aka Schindler’s List)
The Spy Who Came in From the Cold
The Talented Mr Ripley
Tess of the D’Urbervilles
Through a Glass Darkly
To Kill a Mockingbird
(Wot? No Puberty Blues?)
If I were held down and forced to choose a few of these I would have to plump for The Outsiders (I just borrowed the 20th anniversary edition DVD from the library), LA Confidential and Heart of Darkness.
I have often thought that tag clouds have the potential for ‘art’ – they sometimes remind me of the work of Lee Krasner – and now The Swedish National Public Art Council has commissioned a work that presents a visual representation of words used by to search their website. It also compares these words, through the use of colour to the words used to describe similar things by those who work at Art Council.
The Voice visualizes the words the users of the Art Council website are searching for on the site and in search engines in order to find the site, and a comparison of these words with the word usage at the office of the Art Council (for example words written in emails and read by the office staff on web pages). The visualization consists of the last two thousand words searched for, displayed in different font sizes/colors, with different border sizes/colors, reflecting how many times it has been searched for, when it was searched for, how much it has been mentioned in the internal communication and how much it is used on the Internet in general. Each word links to the pages on the server that contains the search-word, the visualization thus functions an alternate interface to the Art Council website. The visualization is updated daily and each new “image” is saved in an archive accessible by the user.
I like the look of this. I am a word freako so any use of letters, words or phrases in artwork has always had an effect on me. The other thing I like about it is that it has some of its roots in web design. It’s common practice to compare the words employed by users to the words used by those close to the information or organisation. It’s quite a basic approach and it comes down to user focus. A graphic representation of this holds great appeal.
(Cross-posted at Larvatus Prodeo).
He doesn’t strike me as an intelligent man – he strikes me as a f—wit, actually – and you see his bowling is absolutely cerebral: every ball is different. It’s almost as if there’s witchcraft in the ball.
This is Dorothy Porter on Shane Warne. This is also my way of justifying a post on cricket. Last night I watched my first 20/20 cricket match and something ‘absolutely cerebral’ was definitely missing from the first 20/20 International held in Australia.
Ok, first impressions: it’s a bit like backyard cricket. I’m not sure of the rules so I don’t know if they have electric wickie, one bounce, one hand, or over-the-fence-your’re out. The way in which the batsmen acquit themselves is not unlike the sloggers of the backyard. Plenty of stepping back, giving one lots of room and exposing the stumps. An abundance of wrenching of balls bowled on the off-stump way onto the onside. Lots of pressure on fielders. Lots of laughing at dropped catches. (I expected the excuses to come from the wired up Graeme Smith: Awww, I had to put down me beer first.)
But as the commentators reminded us until the final ball was bowled, this game is about ENTERTAINMENT. And my, weren’t the crowd, the largest ever at the GABBA apparently, being entertained. So much so that the Mexican Wave was brought into play before South Africa had got halfway through their innings.
South Africa seemed to have forgotten the script and after 10 overs Tony Grieg was reminding us that the South Africans would go all out to get the runs, even though it was obvious to all that the game had gone to pot. Don’t turn off now, there’s still excitement to be had. Of course, there was ENTERTAINMENT. There were breakdancers, there was music. Oh yeah, and there was a cricket match.
The 20/20 slogfest is attractive. But it’s like eating the sponsor’s ‘cuisine’ after a few beers at the RSL. Tastes great at the time but you just know it’s lacking in substance. (And that can’t really be chicken can it?).
Living with people who have NO IDEA about cricket I found myself justifying the reason batsmen don’t play like ‘Marto’ in Test Matches. Because the game is much more complex than a bloke bowling a ball at another bloke trying to hit it over the fence. 20/20 is cricket for the lowest common denominator and even then it fails to live up to expectations. The ‘innovations’ – wired-up captains, shortened boundaries, blaring music, nicknames on shirts (lucky Tubsy Taylor’s not playing eh?) – actually sap the game of any substance such a shortened version may have already had.
Why not make it really interesting and make the bunnies open the batting and bar any recognised bowler from actually bowling? It would make as much sense as the cannabilised version of cricket we saw last night. So I’m a traditionalist, a purist, a wet sock, a spoilsport. I don’t really care. I just hope 20/20 dies a quick and painful death.
Just one question: why was Australia wearing blue/grey?