Your FAVOURITES - 2008

On the theory that most readers like to hear suggestions from others - Classic readers are requesting suggestions on favourites you have read for say the past year or so. If you would like to please go ahead and whet our appetites - Just tell us why .

I will start the ball rolling with three Australian books I read or re-read last year which I would recommend for one reason or another.
Tim Winton's ' Breath ' - Tim Winton has not been one of my real favourites but I was reading this for another group and I have to say that I found such a lot to admire in this work that i would recommend it. The lyrical, easy flow of his language really bears close examination. It is beautifully written without a loose sentence in sight. I am now convinced he is one of the best . This is a most unusual story set in Western Australia of course - it is at the one level a paen to surfing and youthful daring .The lyrical descriptions of this boys own and rites of passage stuff is wonderful. Along with this aspect of the book there is another hard theme about what daring can do to a person and linking it to loss and sexuality . Overall it is the writing itself which won me over - it is no wonder he took several years to write it.

Miles Franklin's 'My Brilliant Career" - Having read this years ago and been influenced and impressed by it (and loving the film too) I was fascinated to pick it up again . What an astounding work it is - a novel written by an 18 year old in the late 19th or early 20th in the Australian countryside about an 18 year old . I had to keep reminding myself this was not a mature woman developing the character of Jo March for our edification and delight , nor an established adult writer exposing Holden Caulfield to us - the writer is only as old as her heroine. Have a look at it again. No wonder we thought it a marvel when we were young as did Henry Lawson when he was given the anonymous manuscript to appraise. He loved it and he rightly picked it was written by a woman - despite the name she adopted. It was originally published in England because A & R rejected it. It has a lot of faults but it is a glorious read.

Dorothy Hewitt's "The man from Muckinupin'. Dorothy is another of the daring women of Australian writing and in this play she wrote a classic. The Belvoir St Theatre in Sydney is showing it this year and I cant wait . It is a Melbourne theatre and 30th anniversary production. One of the characters called a "Touch of the tar" personifies a statement of pure resonance. In my preview notes from Belvoir, Hewitt is referred to as one of our great poets and ratbags. It is a little bit wheatbelt Shakespeare in comedy mode. It is a musical also. See it if you can - and read it anyhow - It reads very well.