One Book That Changed Your Life
The dictionary, or rather becoming aware of how to use the dictionary effectively. It's more than a spelling aid, it opens up worlds of meaning when you encounter unfamiliar words in your reading. I remember my favourite English teacher talking about the word 'cicatrice' from My Brother Jack, and how she had looked it up in the dictionary to discover it was the most perfect word in the context it was used. I wanted to have experiences like that.
One Book You Have Read More Than Once
I tend not to read books more than once. Here I have to resort to books I've written a thesis chapter on: Loaded by Christos Tsiolkas, Praise by Andrew McGahan. I've recently re-read The Great Gatsby on a voluntary basis, but I don't think I really read it properly the first time.
One Book You Would Want On A Desert Island
When ThirdCat did this meme, I was very impressed by her answer, which was some kind of manual on desert island survival. I think if I could have only one book, that would be my preference too, but if the matter of surviving was taken care of then Don Quixote because in it there are stories within stories. And if I were that isolated, I would probably finish it.
One Book That Made You Laugh
The Blindman's Hat by Bernard Cohen. Oh, that fluffy little white dog, Muffy!
One Book That Made You Cry
Lucy said that Markus Zusak's The Book Thief made her cry, and it had the same effect on me too. Another book that elicited strong emotion from me was Siri Hustvedt's What I Loved. I have wanted to write about this book in more detail, but I truly don't think it's possible without ruining the experience for someone else. I've just had a look at my bookshelves and was reminded that it took me two days to recover from reading Candy by Luke Davies.
One Book You Wish You Had Written
I don't know that I really think this way. Perhaps I can offer that during the time I fancied myself as a potential writer of novels, there were a couple of authors who used to make me think I had something to say: Milan Kundera, especially The Joke and The Book of Laughter and Forgetting; and Paul Auster, particularly The Invention of Solitude. I could also probably add Roddy Doyle for Paddy Clark Ha Ha Ha and The Barrytown Trilogy (The Snapper and The Van, more than The Commitments).
One Book You Wish Had Never Been Written
That Eye the Skyby Tim Winton. It put me off Tim Winton forever. I hated the way the women were punished thoughout the narrative after expressing the vaguest of feminist sentiments: the grandmother went mad in a rocking chair in the back room, while the daughter harmed herself with self-inflicted cigarette burns before going off to meet a dubious fate in the bush that hinted at sexual assault. Meanwhile, the father who had been injured arose Christ-like from near-death out of a baptismal-like bath, reborn to take his place at the head of his family; and the son kept seeing prophetic visions in the cookie jars, because his naive view of the world, unsullied by any l institutional mediation, was apparently clear and true. All that self-appointed prophet, I-don't-believe-in-organised-religion-but-I-am-the-leader-of- my-own-spirituality made me want to drink Kool-Aid. I have a particular objection to Tim Winton's linking of white, male spirituality to the land in a kind of psuedo-envirnomentalist way. It just looks like another vile mutation of colonialism to me.
One Book You Are Currently Reading
The White Earth by Andrew McGahan
One Book You Have Been Meaning To Read
Next on my list, after The Vivisector, is Tuvalu by Andrew O'Connor. If I could get hold of Wegener's Jigsaw by Clare Dudman, or Siri Hustvedt's other novels, The Blindfold and The Enchantment of Lily Dahl I would like to read them too. This is the problem when you don't have a credit card, you can't just order things online, you have to rely on bookshops. The bookshops in Brisbane haven't been very good on these books, they tell me that Wegener's Jigsaw is out of stock, but I learned from the author's blog that it's about to be remaindered!
Dear readers of Galaxy, if you find any of these books on your travels, please think of me. I will gratefully reimburse you.
Now Tag Five People
Everyone seems to have done this already, but if you haven't and want to, consider yourself tagged. Let me know if you take up the tag after reading this post.
I noticed that Lucy has since posted another book-related meme, so I thought I'd do that one too:
• Grab the nearest book.
• Open the book to page 123.
• Find the fifth sentence.
• Post the text of the next four sentences.
• Don't cheat by looking for a book with more literary/intellectual credibility.
The book on the desk in front of me was A Plea For Eros by Siri Hustvedt; clearly I'd half imagined a blog post on it, celebrating the fact that she's done a PhD on Dickens and is crazily smart in the way that I like. I think she might qualify for nerdy nerd status. I was also going to reflect on the topic of self-revelation, wondering about what seem to me to be the similarities between published books and blogs.
Anyhoo, the fifth sentence on page 123, and the following four:
An acerbic, often cynical film reviewer for The New Yorker ended his column with a heartfelt statement about love. He seemed to mean it. My brother-in-law, a sculptor, reported a conversation that he had with fellow artists who said they were rethinking their work. For a brief time, photographs of firefighters and policemen replaced pictures of celebrities in the tabloids and on magazine covers. The news channels dropped commercials from their coverage, as if they knew that alternating film footage from the site, where rescue workers were digging for pieces of the dead, with ads for dish washing liquid or an allergy drug would be unacceptable.I want to reveal the next sentence as well:
But by now, this talk of a cultural sea change is mostly gone.