01. Melbourne Writers Festival program – an apt theme, given our uncertain times. In The Comfort Book, Matt Haig quotes film director Jean-Luc Godard who says a story should have a beginning, middle and end, but not necessarily in that order. Is it fair to say that we’re all craving classic narratives and conclusive endings, right now?! Continue reading →
01. I was supposed to be at Philip Island this weekend… which would have meant I missed out on the Yarra Valley Writers Festival – so the silver lining of Lockdown 5.0 is that I got to ‘attend’ (virtually) the Festival (and my trip has been rescheduled). I’m classing it as a win, okay?!
02. Related: When Meg Mason was talking about Sorrow & Bliss, she said that in the first version the story, Ingrid was going to be in Martha’s imagination i.e. how Martha might be without her mental illness – WHAT?! I’m glad she made Ingrid a real person. Continue reading →
I did away with ‘top tens’ a few years ago, and instead I finish the reading year with a recap of the books that are still speaking to me (less about four and five-star ratings, more about what has stuck). Continue reading →
Has there ever been such a grim title? Sorry, it’s the Pollyanna in me. I started writing Things That Are Making Me Happy posts seven months ago, when Melbourne went into its first lockdown. There was a brief gap between lockdowns one and two, but not enough for anything to feel ‘normal’. For me, that’s changed in the last two weeks and being able to see family and friends, and enjoy some dinners out, has been marvelous.
So, before I immerse myself in Melbourne’s ‘new normal’, I thought I’d remind myself of the highlights of ‘happy’. Here’s a quick summary of the best stuff – Continue reading →
I have strong feelings about spoilers (just don’t). When reviewing a book, I err on the side of not saying much about the plot – that’s what blurbs are for and, if that’s not enough, you can head over to Goodreads where there’s always someone who has given a blow-by-blow account of the story.
As I’ve said previously, when I read a review, I want to know about how people felt when they read a particular book. Especially if they feel like this:
But sometimes you need to discuss a book, and that discussion involves a spoiler. I did it here (for The Other Typist).
You might be surprised to know that I rarely get so engrossed in a book that I’m reading for hours – I think there’s an assumption that people who ‘read lots of books’ devote great rafts of time to the pursuit. I wish that were the case! In reality, my reading is done in short bursts – ten minutes at breakfast and lunch, a couple of five minute ‘power-reads’ during the day, and then half an hour before I sleep. But occasionally, I have to put everything on hold because I’ve become absolutely engrossed in a book. Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason was such a book.
It’s the story of Martha. Martha knows there is something wrong with her but she doesn’t know what it is. Her husband, Patrick, thinks she is fine, and that the important thing is that life carries on –
‘Martha… everything is broken and messed up, and completely fine. That is what life is. It’s only the ratios that change. Usually on their own. As soon as you think that’s it, it’s going to be like this forever, they change again.’
Patrick’s response to Martha’s struggle is borne from his love for her, rather than pig-headed denial, and much of the emotional energy in the story is directed toward the particular issue of wanting to be ‘well’ for the people we love; and the feelings of guilt and anxiety that go along with that.
I was desperate to cancel. But he bought a Lonely Planet. He had been reading it in bed every night and as ill and scared as I was, I couldn’t bear to disappoint someone whose desires were so modest they could be circled in pencil.Continue reading →