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.


John Kennedy said...

I read Breath over the Christmas period and would be interested in discussing it, Faye. (In fact, I sent you a message suggesting it, which perhaps you did not get.) I am about as far from being an acolyte in the Mystical Church of Surfing as it is possible for a member of the human species to get, and this alienated me a bit from the book, but I agree it is a good read and well written. (But a narrator apparently born like Winton in about 1960 repeatedly referring to himself as an old man? Come off it, even if you have had a nervious breakdown!)

Val Hooper said...

The invitation to recommend a couple of books which I found during 2008 is too good an opportunity to miss.

They are both written by authors who began their writing lives as journalists so they are easy to read and laced with a fair bit of sensationalism, but I was thoroughly engrossed by both of them.

The first is Affection by Ian Townsend. This is a novel set in Townsville at the turn of the 20th century during an outbreak of bubonic plague. There are references to the political turmoil of the times in the "deep north" but it is largely a novel of personal angst during a little known episode of our history.

The other title I would recommend is A Death in Tuscany by Lisa Clifford. This is a "factionalised" account of a story Clifford discovered in her husband's family history and while I thought the ending was resolved a bit unsatifactorily the subject matter was grimly fascinating and extremely gripping.

While neither of these books could be called great literature I found much in the subject matter and settings to keep me interested and the stories and characters have stayed with me.