Bookish (and not so bookish) Thoughts

01. It was our annual International Night dinner with friends last week. This year we were Rockin’ the Moroccan. My contribution included cocktails, nibbles, and dessert. Of the things I made, a few recipes will be repeated in the future – Gin and Mint Tea cocktail (the complex sugar syrup is well worth the effort – I doubled the quantity and made a pitcher); Moroccan ‘sausage rolls’; this orange cake and this lemon cake – I’m no baker but these cakes were easy and delicious. Continue reading

The TBR stack that (happily) never goes away

I write a post every year about how I’ve made virtually no progress on reducing my TBR stack. Some bloggers will read this post and feel really good (smug) about their own manageable-and-totally-in-control TBR stacks. Others will read it and say, “Pfft. That’s not a stack, this is a stack”, and point to pictures of their hallway, lined with bookshelves that are filled with unread books. Continue reading

Broadside 2019 – Zadie Smith

There were moments when I wanted to call out “Stop! Wait! I need to process that!” during the conversation between Jia Tolentino and Zadie Smith at last weekend’s Broadside festival. Their banter was rapid-fire; the topics they were discussing were big and intense ; and it’s taken me a week to reflect on all that was covered.

Zadie got straight into it with, “I’m always thinking a lot about death. And human autonomy, free will. Shit like that.” She was being truthful and funny all at once. Continue reading

Bookish (and not so bookish) Thoughts

01. The bushfires burning out-of-control across vast areas of New South Wales and Queensland are unprecedented for this time of year and are of unprecedented intensity, yet still the politicians in power won’t mention the ‘c’ words… (image by photographer Martin Von Stoll). Continue reading

Broadside 2019 – Helen Garner

What a day! The inaugural Broadside Festival opened with Helen Garner in conversation with Sarah Krasnostein.

It was the first time I’d heard Helen speak (despite trying to get to her rare speaking engagements in the past). My immediate impression was that she was much warmer and funnier than I had expected (I guess my expectations were unthinkingly based on her subject matter and her spare, pared-back prose).

The conversation began with talking about publishing a diary, something that by nature is intended to be private. On rereading her diaries, Helen said, “There was a lot of boring stuff in there, which naturally I found fascinating. To sort out what others would find interesting about you is actually quite a challenging process.” Continue reading

Two author talks (with three authors)

I went to two author talks last week (both were free events) and I was reminded why it’s ace living in a UNESCO City of Literature.

The first event was part of the Wheeler Centre’s Double Booked series. Favel Parrett and Anna Krien talked about their new books, There Was Still Love and Act of Grace respectively). At the second event, hosted by Readings, Charlotte Wood talked about her latest book, The Weekend (review to come but spoiler alert: I LOVED it). Continue reading

Chad Harbach and Jeanette Winterson at The Wheeler Centre

Last night I had the great pleasure of hearing authors Chad Harbach and Jeanette Winterson speak as part of The Wheeler Centre winter program.

The story of Harbach’s debut novel, The Art of Fielding, is one of those publishing fairy tales – it took him ten years to write and when he was finally ready to show it, the book was rejected by all except one agent. According to Harbach, it seemed that the themes of the book, baseball and homosexuality, “…kind of cancelled each other out in terms of ‘audience appeal'”. Fortunately, publishers saw The Art of Fielding differently and the book was the centre of a fierce bidding war – it sold for $665,000 in what Vanity Fair called ‘the biggest fiction auction in recent memory’.

Have you read The Art of Fielding? My review is nearly ready  – all I need to say at this stage is READ THIS BOOK. Continue reading