Includes book reviews and bits from writer's journal. For the professional stuff, see website link below left.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

My Kind of Orgy

When I was younger and richer, and had more room to add to my book collection, I would sometimes take a day off from both motherhood and paid employment, go into Melbourne to my favourite bookshops (yes, this was long ago when I lived in a suburb of that city) and have what I called an orgy, coming home with an obscene number of luscious, hugely desirable tomes. The favourite bookshops, of course, stocked poetry and other capital-L literature, and the esoteric.

These days, I have managed to considerably curb the book-buying – though there are always some that one MUST own, regardless of overflowing shelves – in favour of borrowing. The local library service is excellent. I try not to go overboard there, either; but last week I went mad, all alone in the Bookmobile, and had an orgy. Oh, it was good! I’ll have to do a lot of fast reading now, and hope I can renew everything at least once.

I came home with:

Life’s a Witch! A Handbook for Teen Witches, by Fiona Horne
Of course I am not a teen, but her other books are very good – clear, sensible, entertaining – and I thought I might learn some new spells at the very least. I’m not disappointed. In fact it’s so good that I’m planning to discuss it in more detail when I finish it. (I started with this book and am still reading it.)

Revolving Days, by David Malouf
I first fell in love with Malouf as a poet. I love his fiction too, but was thrilled to find a new book of his poems (2008). Actually it’s a “selected” which is even better, as I hadn’t come across all the volumes of poetry from which the pieces are taken. I actually started with this one, come to think of it – but am picking it up and putting it down as the mood takes me, not reading all through in sequence. It’s a good one to have in my handbag when I go out, too – not too big. Though not a very slim volume either, I’m glad to say; lots of delicious reading there.

The Penguin Anthology of Australian Poetry, ed. by John Kinsella
This is a big thick volume, published this year. I consider the editor our best living Australian poet. It covers two centuries, includes Aboriginal and ethnic Australians, and many of my contemporaries. I’m not in it. But then, I wouldn’t have expected to be. It’s partly my own fault for keeping such a low profile for most of the last 16 years. John Kinsella wasn’t around when I had my heyday, and has no reason to be aware of my existence. Whether he would have selected me in any case, I can’t of course know. Such a book, as he acknowledges in his Introduction, must leave out numerous works of equal merit to those included. (Begging the question of whether my merit is equal, lol.) And he is clearly attempting to convey a flavour of Australianness – though very deliberately seeking to subvert old clichés. I’m pleased to see the inclusion of some old cronies who weren't always appreciated by editors and compilers. I’m comforted for my own omission by the omission of several others whose work I very much admire. But anyway it’s a treasure trove. I discover exciting poets and poems I hadn’t encountered before. And I find old friends, old loves: decades old. John Shaw Nielson. Mary Gilmore. Michael Dransfield. Bruce Dawe. Judith Wright. And David Malouf is here too, as he should be. They all should be, those who are. I could practically have an orgy with just this one book!

The Long Hot Summer: A French heatwave and a marriage meltdown, by Mary Moody
An Australian memoir which has been popular with both public and critics. I wouldn’t have thought of it if I hadn’t seen it under my nose, but it’s one of those books that you think you ought to read because everybody else has. A rather lukewarm reason – but I fully expect to enjoy it tremendously.

Too Brief a Treat: The Letters of Truman Capote, ed. by Gerald Clarke
Not a brief book, however, so I hope the treat will also prove substantial. I haven’t read a lot of Capote, nor even seen the recent movies about him yet; but, like so many others, I fell in love with his book Breakfast at Tiffany’s, which I read after seeing the Audrey Hepburn film. Both book and film remain favourites. I am hoping to enjoy this book in a different way. I hope it’s entertainingly wicked and bitchy. A quick dip into it suggests it might be syrupy instead. Oh dear!

Making Waves: 10 years of the Byron Bay Writers Festival, ed. by Marele Day, and others.
Byron Bay’s just down the road but I’ve seldom been to this particular festival, and then only to selected events. By the time we came to live here I was a bit festivalled out. This book hasn’t really much to do with the Byron Festival as such; writers who have been featured there were invited to contribute to the book by addressing the things that mattered to them as writers and Australians. Well, I guess that’s a version of what writers do at festivals, after all. Anyway, should be interesting. (I note via facebook that the latest Byron Bay Writers’ Festival is about to start, on August 7th. But on that day I’ll be hosting Thom the World Poet – these days known as Thom Moon 10 – and the Cathouse Creek Duo at a special workshop for my WordsFlow writers’ group.)

In Praise of Slow: How a Worldwide Movement is Challenging the Cult of Speed, by Carl Honoré
My life seems to have got faster and faster, and I can hardly keep up with myself any more. I thought I might NEED this book.

Mandalas: Symbols of Harmony and Peace, by Sandra Rix Joran. (No, I don’t mean “Jordan”.)
I love mandalas, and went through a phase of drawing them. This is a book of beautiful mandalas created by the author in mixed media, with brief commentaries on the symbolism in each. A treat for eyes and soul!

Tantra: the way of acceptance, by Osho
I love Osho’s wisdom, humour, and ability to cut through the crap. And I’d like to know more about Tantric philosophy. This book is full of beautiful photographs of nature, along with his illuminating words.

3 comments:

  1. Yes. I love that feeling of having an armload full of new books. I like to take them with me somehwere where I can get a hot cup of coffee, and back when I smoked, smoke a half pack or so of cigarettes digging into one of them. Writing in my journal was that much more fluid when I was surrounded by so many words. In fact I love the feeling so much that I tend to build up large library fines wherever I live because I don't just get out two or three books at a time, I get out twenty or thirty books even though I know there's no way I can possibly read them all before they're due. But I just like to have them around me and I like to have many options to choose from when I'm deciding what to read next.

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  2. When I read the title, I had to know.

    Yep, with you on this one. I have to curb my book-buying - you think this is bad, I ask, as I carry home the latest ones. I'm controlling myself.

    The Perth library has been shut this week for renovations, the first time this has happened since they moved to the current bunker 20-odd years ago (basement of an office building) and the staff were busy explaining and soothing clients. "We're shut next week, so take lots," they advised.

    I've concluded library patrons REALLY don't like change, or the withdrawal of supply!

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  3. Ah, Zachariahskylab, we're kindred spirits! (Even to "back when I smoked".)

    And ratfan, you're another. Ha ha, "withdrawal of supply", books as addiction; how true.

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