Archive for November, 2008

November 28, 2008

Look at this beautiful picture of Kreme Life’s wallpaper that uses a candy-pink hardcover of Zadie Smith’s On Beauty as midground. My silly old paperback doesn’t look quite the same anymore. Via Design Sponge.

I’ve had a ratty old week, getting shots for Northwest Africa. Today I had to get my visa, and besides being generally disorganised myself, the STA Travel Offices (yes, I had to go to two separate ones) were stressful and gave me hives; I think i’m allergic to contradictory information. But when I went to get a money order from the post office, the desk clerk who served me was a beacon of peaceful awesomeness with a sweet, light (American? Canadian?) voice. So thank you, A’Beckett Street post office clerk.

Have a good weekend, people.

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November 27, 2008

Dear Australian Federal Government,

Good move.

Kind regards,

Italo Calvino has always been kind of a Holy Grail author for me. You know, “one day I’ll read him, and it’ll be awesome.” Everyone else seemed already to have been inducted into the Calvino Readers Hall of Fame. Meanwhile I was just hanging around, checking into Young Adult hotels and digging an interminable Literary Classic hole (it goes all the way to China). But it wasn’t like I hadn’t tried reading this book before. My beloved (whose book collection is smaller but more respectable than mine) has a copy from when he’d read it 8 years ago. On my first attempt, I found the first couple of pages too clever-clever, like the person you never sat next to in university classes.

You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino’s new novel, If on a winter’s night a traveler. Relax. Concentrate. Dispel every other thought. Let the world around you fade. Best to close the door; the TV is always on in the next room. Tell the others right away, “No, I don’t want to watch TV!” Raise your voice–they won’t hear you otherwise–”I’m reading! I don’t want to be disturbed!”

I like a tricksy literary conceit as much as the next girl, but Calvino be damned if he thought this would charm me. Ok, so he clearly had a handle on the context of modern, even postmodern, reading. But I was tired and didn’t want to go to Overtly Self-Referential Narrative land, so I tossed it aside.

Skip a couple of years, and three of my friends were reading, or had lately read Calvino’s Invisible Cities. Something fun and good was happening in their brains, and I wanted in. Again I forced myself through the first pages (they serve a purpose but with some vulgarity, possibly the only false notes in the novel) and to my surprise I was quickly in love. Though If on a winter’s night a traveller is assiduously metafictional, its assays are preternaturally acute, and playful to boot.

The protagonist is a Reader who is not dissimilar to you. You are putatively reading the same book as he is, after all. But are you as committed, seduced, overwhelmed by the pleasures of reading? To follow Calvino’s Reader through his Arabian Nights-style journey (feminists be appeased or outraged, there is a female Other Reader) is to turn the mirror on one’s own most cherished experiences of reading. The book is intellectual, yet intimate; Calvino balances the esoteric with the congratulatory to make the reader feel like a distinguished accomplice.

Guess what? It’s a bonafide

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Recommended for: (and I might be overstating this, but) people who love books stupid.

No book reviews today either, I’m afraid. I’ve got reports to edit at work, and zines to make and shots to get before I leave for Ghana in 3 weeks (yikes). Also, I’m at that stage where I’m about halfway through a few longish books, which means that I won’t finish any of them in a hurry. Does that happen to you?

But last night there was an informal launch of the ‘Story To…’ (maga)zine in which I have a little piece about swallows and banksias. You can download it for free here.

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November 20, 2008

This is the Penguin Classics Illustrated Jane Eyre, illustrated by Dame Darcy. Kind of old, I think, but still available from some online retailers. I want this for Christmas! Jane Eyre has been one of my favourite books for a long time. Except the semester when I did my first university literature subject and learned that it was not as feminist a book as I thought. That was a bad time.
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There’s really no way around this, but the 55th book I read this year was:

My sister summed it up pretty neatly when she left me this note:

I’m not even going to try to explain.

November 13, 2008

Photos from our inaugural unnamed book club (I like ‘Bim Bam Book Club’) meeting at John and Lauren’s Vogue Living-type house. That’s me doing a yoga twist in the top photo. Super fun times, but totally forgot to get a picture of our pile of Penguin reissues of The Consolations of Philosophy. The Penguin fiend inside me cries. Review to come later. Thanks Loz for the photos!