Tag Archives: books

Lost the Plot – Episode 25 – Short Stories

Support Lost the Plot
Become a Lost the Plot Patron
Subscribe, like and comment on SoundCloud
Subscribe and leave a review on iTunes
Follow Tinted Edges on Facebook

Show Notes

My Birthday Presents

20180505_172635-171261564.jpg

My book skirt!

20180620_2336432010339616.jpg

Enter a caption

img_20180406_003426_936205155988.jpg

My most beautiful book 😦

Murder in the Mail and Magic in the Mail
Felicity Banks’ Facebook page
Murder in the Mail Kickstarter Campaign
Magic in the Mail
Lost the Plot Episode 22 – Interactive Fiction

Street Library Interviews
ABC News Story – Curious Canberra
Lil Street Libraries
Lost the Plot Episode 9 – Street Libraries

Sekolah Gunung Merapi campaign
SGM’s facebook post
SGM’s website post
Lost the Plot Episode 13 – Books for the World
Books for the World website

Hugo Awards and
2018 Hugo Awards Finalists
1943 Retro-Hugo Awards Finalists

2018 Nebula Awards
Winners Announced
My Review of “The Stone Sky”
Peter S. Beagle newest Grand Master

2018 Stella Prize
Winner
My review of “The Fish Girl”
My review of “Terra Nullius”

2018 Australian Book Industry Awards
Winners
My reivew of “Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow”

20 Books by Women that Changed the World
Full List

2018 Vogel’s Award
Winner

Nobel Prize for Literature
Canberra Times article

Diary of Anne Frank – hidden pages
CNN article

Upcoming Releases
“Any Ordinary Day” by Leigh Sales
“The Fall of Gondolin” by J R R Tolkein
NOT the Winds of Winter, by George R R Martin
“Nine Perfect Strangers” by Liane Moriarty

TV and Film Adaptations
ABC’s Shakespeare Retelling project
Choose Your Own Adventure
The Bookshop
The Secret Garden

Describe Yourself the Way a Male Author Would
Electric Literature article
Bored Panda article
Electric Literature Male Author Description Chart

Children’s Book Author takes on Fashion Giant Zara
9 News article

Fake News: Children’s Books NOT Banned by Victorian Councils
The Guardian article
Victorian Liberals Statement
SBS article
University of Melbourne page on ANU study

Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2017
Full List

 

 

 

UTAS Law Library Book Disaster
The Mercury article
ABC article

Canberra Streets named after Librarians
Ten Daily article

Story Time From Space
Facebook page
Website

Things that Sean and I talked about:

capital-yarns
Edgar Allen Poe’s short stories
Stephen King’s short stories
“On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft” by Stephen King
“The Tommyknockers” by Stephen King (don’t read this, I implore you)
Road Dahl’s short stories
The darker side of Roald Dahl BBC article
“Go the F*** to Sleep”

“I’m a failed poet. Maybe every novelist wants to write poetry first, finds he can’t and then tries the short story which is the most demanding form after poetry. And failing that, only then does he take up novel writing.” – William Faulkner

The quote I referred to is often attributed to Mark Twain, but has apparently been used by many people. Mark Twain himself said “You’ll have to excuse my lengthiness—the reason I dread writing letters is because I am so apt to get to slinging wisdom & forget to let up. Thus much precious time is lost.”

“The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood
“13 Reasons Why” by Jay Asher
“Decoding the Opposite Sex” by Sean Costello
Send in your requests to: http://www.capitalyarns.com.au/who/
“Capital Yarns” by Sean Costello
Definition of ‘yarn
I have also partaken in yarnbombing
“Hey Sister” by Sean Costello
Human Brochure Campaign
Mocan and Green Grout
Capital Yarns Podcast
Arranged Marriage for the Modern Indian Man Podcast
Audiocraft Podcast Festival
“Anzac Day” by Sean Costello
Trace Podcast
Serial Podcast
Evil Genius TV Series
Welcome to Nightvale Podcast
Hello from the Magic Tavern
This American Life
Birdman
“Dreamsnake” by Vonda N. McIntyre
Biopunk
“Birdman” by Sean Costello

“The Anchoress” by Robyn Cadwallader

Leave a comment

Filed under Lost the Plot

The Anchoress

Content warning: mental health, self-harm. 

This book had received quite a lot of attention when it first came out, and I was intrigued to read a book that not only has such a striking pearlescent cover, but is by a Canberra author as well. I picked up a copy and it sat patiently on my shelf for ages, but when I got my copy signed at the author’s event launching her newest book, I knew it was time to give this one a go.

20180616_171528234916534.jpg

“The Anchoress” by Robyn Cadwallader is a historical fiction novel about a teenage girl called Sarah in medieval England. Sarah decides to become an anchoress, secluding herself in a cell attached to a church to live the rest of her life in solitude and prayer. As the story progresses, the reader comes to learn why Sarah has chosen this hard, lonely life while Sarah learns that even as an anchoress, she cannot escape the outside world.

This is an ambitious book that is excellently crafted. It’s difficult to tell an engaging story completely set within a tiny cell, but Cadwallader brings to life a rich story full of engaging characters and moral dilemmas. You can tell the research that went into this book. Cadwallader conjures a world where the opportunities for a woman to make her own life are greatly limited, especially by the risks of childbirth. The day to day detail of this story brings medieval culture to life. In such simple times, even the smallest objects have so much meaning and utility. I think that my favourite parts of this book are the characters that Sarah interacts with, and the snippets of the outside world that she ultimately can’t escape. I also really loved how the discussion of writing a prayer onto an apple played out, and Sarah’s difficulty in interpreting her faith by balancing the wishes of the villagers and the decisions of the priests.

I think the only part of the book I struggled with was the ambiguity of Sarah either being haunted by the spirit of the previous anchoress Agnes, or suffering from some serious mental health issues. I appreciate that during medieval times, the line between mental illness and mysticism was much, much more blurry than it is today. However, I think that I would have liked maybe a little more focus on the mental health part and looking a bit more sharply at the damage Sarah was doing to herself rather than leaving it ambiguous.

This is a fascinating book that really immerses the reader into a medieval phenomenon that so little is known about. Cadwallader’s passion for her subject matter radiates off the page and I can’t wait to read more of her work.

image of AWW badge for 2018

3 Comments

Filed under Australian Books, Book Reviews, Historical Fiction

A Perfect Square

I received a copy of this book courtesy of the author.

A Perfect Square - a dark mystery, literary fiction style. Where art and creativity meets the occult and conspiracy theories. When synaesthesia becomes clairvoyant. A must read for all lovers of rich and complex fiction

“A Perfect Square” by Isobel Blackthorn is an Australian novel about two mothers and two daughters. Eccentric artist Harriet has her carefully controlled bohemian-bourgeois lifestyle in the Dandenong Ranges in Victoria upturned when her pianist daughter Ginny moves back home after a breakup. Tension crackles between them as Ginny tries to pry the truth about her father from her mother and they collaborate on a joint exhibition. In the UK, another artist called Judith struggles with her own daughter Madeline, and as the novel progresses the connections between the two families become more and more clear.

This is a dark and fraught story about the complexity of female relationships, and particularly mother-daughter relationships. I found Harriet a particularly fascinating character who straddles privilege and a more modest artistic lifestyle, who balances innate talent against anxiety about originality, and who wants to see her daughter flourish yet feels envy about her daughter’s success. I felt like there was some real honesty in the way that Blackthorn described an artist’s life. Harriet’s self-doubt and reliance on selling her artworks rather than just painting whatever felt very real to me. Blackthorn also explored some interesting ideas about fatherhood, being a single parent, and how much love and affection is the right amount to give to children.

The focus of the novel was definitely on Harriet and Ginny’s relationship, but the second half of the book had much more of a thriller theme. There were two families, but the majority of the story was so much about Harriet and Ginny that Judith and Madeline were effectively only support characters. I think that I would have liked to have seen either equal airtime for Judith and Madeline to better strengthen the overall sense of suspense, or to have removed them altogether and let Harriet and Ginny carry the story by themselves. I also felt a little like Ginny’s two best friends were support characters as well. It seemed like they had no lives of their own outside Ginny’s sphere of perception and I didn’t feel like Ginny had individual relationships with either of them.

A tense story with some difficult yet universal themes, this book gives an interesting perspective into the lifestyle of artists and expectations around motherhood.

image of AWW badge for 2018

1 Comment

Filed under Australian Books, Book Reviews, eBooks, General Fiction

The Fish Girl

This book was shortlisted for the 2018 Stella Prize and when I got a couple of book vouchers for my birthday last month, I knew that I wanted to spend one on this. I spent some years growing up in Indonesia, and studied the region for years at university, and I was so excited to read this story.

20180526_204158-1101406175.jpg

“The Fish Girl” by Mirandi Riwoe is a historical fiction novella based on a short story called “The Four Dutchmen” by W. Somerset Maugham. Riwoe’s story conjures a backstory for the character who is never named, but referred to as ‘the Malay trollope’. Riwoe imagines a young Indonesian girl who is hired by an Indo man to work in the kitchen of a Dutch merchant’s house. Mina is from a tiny fishing village and is very young and very naive. However, she soon settles into the routine of preparing and serving food for the master and begins to grow more confident. As time goes on, Mina is noticed by one of the master’s Dutch sailor friends as well as Ajat, a young man from her village. Despite her newfound confidence, Mina’s inexperience is taken advantage of and these men are ultimately her undoing.

This was an excellent novella. Riwoe drew on her own family knowledge as well as thorough knowledge to bring this story to life. Considering how undercooked a character she is in Maugham’s short story, this novella gives Mina a name and demands empathy from the reader when there was none originally. This book feels like a snapshot into both Indonesian culture and Dutch colonisation and it conveys so much in so little. I also loved Riwoe’s writing. I loved how she used spice and smell to bring an extra dimension to her story, and I adored her use of imagery. The similes she used were just exceptional, and completely believable as comparisons that Mina herself would use to make sense of her new life and new experiences.

I only have one criticism for this book, and it’s going to sound like a strange one, but I felt like the novella was too short. The pacing throughout the majority of the book was so perfect, but once Mina steps on the ship everything felt like it was at warp-speed. Riwoe covers all the events of “The Four Dutchmen” in only 14 pages. With all the care and detail and exactness that had been taken with the majority of the book, this part felt rushed and the situation deteriorated so quickly it was hard as a reader to keep up.

This is an excellent book and a stand-out example of the power of historical fiction to tell stories that were ignored or minimised at the time. I’m really looking forward to see more of Riwoe’s work and I am so glad that I picked this as one of my birthday books.

image of AWW badge for 2018

3 Comments

Filed under Australian Books, Book Reviews, Historical Fiction, Novella

Lost the Plot – Episode 24 – Sydney Writers’ Festival Special

Support Lost the Plot
Become a Lost the Plot Patron
Subscribe, like and comment on SoundCloud
Subscribe and leave a review on iTunes
Follow Tinted Edges on Facebook

Show Notes

Part 1 – Friday Afternoon

Sydney Writers’ Festival
Kendall Kirkwood
The Rest of Us Just Live Here” by Patrick Ness
“Release” by Patrick Ness
Terra Nullius” by Claire G. Coleman
Canberra
“The Trauma Cleaner” by Sarah Krasnostein, narrated by Rachael Tidd
21st Biennale of Sydney

Events:
Eileen Myles: To Dig a Hole in Eternity
SWF Gala: Power
Sarah Krasnostein: The Trauma Cleaner
Writing for YA Books and Film
Leigh Sales: On Doubt
Annabel Crabb’s BooKwiz
Recognise
Gay for Page
Power Play: Toxic Masculinity in Storytelling
Eileen Myles: Straight Expectations
Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia

Part 2 – Friday Night

Eileen Myles

Image may contain: 2 people, including Kendall Kirkwood, people smiling, close-up and indoor

Eileen and Kendall, Photo by Kendall Kirkwood

SWF Gala: Power

20180504_202454-748837671.jpg

Tayari Jones
BookScan
Judy Blume

Part 3 – Saturday Morning

20180505_172635-171261564.jpg

My skirt!

Sarah Krasnostein: The Trauma Cleaner

20180505_101138-735425424.jpg

On Doubt” by Leigh Sales
Biography of Stella Miles Franklin
Brokeback Mountain

Part 4 – Saturday Middle of the Day

Writing for YA Books and Film

20180505_115245-2117658087.jpg

Me, Earl and the Dying Girl” by Jesse Andrews
Chaos Walking” by Patrick Ness

Part 5 – Saturday Afternoon

BookWiz with Annabel Crabb
Tim Minchin
RocKwiz
Richard Fidler
Julia Zemiro

No automatic alt text available.

Photo by Kendall Kirkwood, who took very good care of my book

Ghost Empire” by Richard Fidler
Saga Land” by Richard Fidler and Kari Gislason

Part 6 – Saturday Night

Recognise

Stan Grant
Nakkiah Lui
Marcia Langton
What I meant to say was Racecraft, not Racehunt!
Orlando” by Virginia Woolf
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” by J K Rowling
The Velveteen Rabbit” by Margery Williams
The Night Bookmobile” by Audrey Niffenegger

Gay for Page

Image may contain: 4 people

Photo by Kendall Kirkwood

Masha Gessen
Christos Tsiolkas (sorry for mispronouncing his name)
Eileen Myles (preferred pronouns are they, them)
Sally Rugg
Carmen Maria Machado
Yrsa Daley-Ward

Book recommendations
The Sailor Dog” by Margaret Wise Brown
Mister Dog: the dog who belonged to himself” by Margaret Wise Brown
Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott
Jennie” by Paul Galico
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” by Edward Albee
Kama Sutra” by  Vātsyāyana
Enid Blyton
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” by C. S. Lewis
Madeline” by Ludwig Bemelmans
Sarah Waters
Jeanette Winterson
A Restricted Country” by Joan Nestle
The Motion of Light and Water” by Samuel R. Delaney
The Color Purple” by Alice Walker
Shirley Jackson

Junot Diaz Controversy

Part 7 – Sunday Afternoon

Eileen Myles

Power Play: Toxic Masculinity in Storytelling

20180506_100918-11566786275.jpg

Gabriel Tallent
Ceridwen Dovey

Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia

20180506_150741-1-355797368.jpg

Sorry for the terrible photo – I was listening so intently, I didn’t bother checking it.

Barbed Wire and Cherry Blossoms” by Anita Heiss

Part 8 – Sunday Night

Books we bought:

An American Marriage” by Tayari Jones
Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia” Edited by Anita Heiss
Eileen Myles

Authors I saw:

Kate Forsyth
Tom Keneally

#MeToo event with Tracey Spicer and Eva Cox

Virginia Woolf’s actual quote:

Think of a book as a very dangerous and exciting game, which it takes two to play at.

 

1 Comment

Filed under Literary Events, Lost the Plot

Sydney Writers’ Festival – Writing for YA Books and Film

My third event for the Sydney Writers’ Festival was Writing for YA Books and Film. I was so overcome with the opportunity to see Patrick Ness, I was willing to ignore warnings about the distance between Carriageworks and Parramatta, and leave the previous event early to try to make it in time.

20180505_115245-1840422524.jpg

This event was part of the #AllDayYA segment of the Sydney Writers’ Festival that was taking place at the Riverside Theatres. After a walking, train and Uber combo I finally made it to the event only a little after it has started. YA authors Patrick Ness and Jesse Andrews were being interviewed by Will Kostakis and when I snuck into the front, it looked like the interview was already in full swing.

Ness and Andrews had fantastic rapport from the very beginning. Andrews was talking about plots and how he thinks they’re overrated, and Ness quipped “The only ones who complain about plots are the ones who can’t do it.” Acknowledging that it was maybe a bit mean, Andrew later on asked Ness whether he wanted him to be mean back. Ness vehemently said no, and that “I am way to sensitive for that”. He said, “I tease with affection, but if someone teases men, all I hear is ‘I have always hated you’.”

A big part of the talk was about adapting books for film. Kostakis asked Ness how writing screenplays affects his writing. Ness said that he always encourages writers to try different mediums. He said that there is a big difference between small budget films and big budget films because so many people’s jobs depend on its success. However he did note that his book “Release” was basically unfilmable. Based on “Mrs Dallaway”, it takes place over the course of one day, from sunrise to sunset, and the story is mostly internal.

Ness talked about the difficulties he had with a particular screenplay where he was writing someone else’s story. The film had been in production for 10 years, the story was terrible, but he managed to rewrite it, keep some elements and turn it into a happy family comedy. The author was apparently so mad, he refused to renew the option unless Patrick Ness was fired. Ness leaned back in his chair and said that the film still hasn’t been made, so who is the real winner?

Kostakis asked how the authors felt about collaboration and not knowing how much of the film was theirs. Ness pointed out how much of a high class problem to have, like “not enough foie gras with your brioche“. Essentially though, he recommended that authors whose books have been adapted simply “take the money, buy a new kitchen and forget the rest”. Even when the film has been made, the book still remains.

Now, I cannot continue writing at this point without saying something about Jesse Andrews. Even though he was not the author I had come to see, he was incredibly funny and had a particular brand of visual humour that I’m now very curious to see how it translates into books. At one point he was flailing around in his chair (I can’t quite recall why), and he said “Please don’t take videos of this, it doesn’t translate well!” He actually reminded me quite a bit of seeing Jasper Fforde. I think comedy in books is quite an underrated skill and I think I will have to find myself a copy of “Me, Earl and the Dying Girl” to read now. Kostakis was laughing so much at Jesse through the entire event that he didn’t really get the opportunity to say much at all.

At this point, Ness and Andrews took questions from the audience. One lady, who said she was a teacher, stood up and asked about the M-rating that Ness’ film “A Monster Calls” and talked about the difficulties she had experienced trying to show it to her students. Ness was visibly shocked at this question, and couldn’t believe that the film had an M-rating. He said, “it’s not like there were willies showing”.

Another young woman from the audience asked Ness how he felt about killing off main characters in stories. Ness said he felt great. The young woman said that she had played around with almost killing off main characters to which Ness replied “Almost doesn’t mean shit, honey.” He advised the audience to write what you would want to read yourself. If you’re having the best time murdering people left, right and centre, as long as it’s on the page, go for it.

It was hard not to notice that everyone had been asking Ness the majority of the questions, so Andrews jumped in to answer one as a joke. He asked, “Can I pitch Moby Dick in space?” to which Ness replied that his next book is actually going to be narrated by a whale.

The conversation then turned to whether authors can write about anyone. Ness recollected a time he had pitched an idea where every secondary character was a woman – shopkeepers, police officers – and wondered whether anyone would notice. He recommended not asking permission when it came to increasing diversity in your books. Andrews then interjected by singing, “White guys, we’re a bunch of white guys, talking about…” Andrews did go on to make some interesting points however about the make up of bestselling authors generally, and how that leads to certain kinds of characters being overrepresented and questions about who has access to storytelling.

He came back to the question of whether anyone can write about anyway. He said that there is no recipe for when it’s right. You can’t legislate because there is no clear answer except that you need fewer dudes, fewer white guys and fewer hetero people writing stories. Andrews concluded that one of the problems is that the financial backers are so risk adverse. Clearly black superheroes and women superheroes are successful, but there needs to be more diverse executives to invest.

This was really a brilliant event and I’m so, so glad I made the effort to trek across Sydney to see it. The icing on the cake was getting my book signed. The line was absolutely enormous, and I have to say I was amazed that some people had stacks of up to six books to get signed. When I finally made it to the front of the line, Ness was so delighted to sign a book for someone called Angharad. He asked me whether I had read his trilogy yet (which I haven’t), and he told me that he has a character called Angharad who is – wait for it – a talking horse. Now, I get a lot of books signed with the vague hopes that someone will name a character after me, but I have never had an author tell me that they already had written a book with my name in it.

I didn’t want to take up too much of his time, but I did quickly take the opportunity to let Ness know that I wished someone had been writing books like his when I was a teenager. He leaned in and said he did too – that’s why he writes them.

 

1 Comment

Filed under Literary Events

Black

I supported this graphic novel on Kickstarter. The original campaign ran in early 2016, but like a lot of Kickstarter fundraisers, it took about two years for my copy of the book to actually arrive. I can’t remember where exactly I came across the The authors had been sending me digital versions of chapters via email as they were completed over the time, but I decided to wait until I had the entire paper volume in my hot little hands before I read the story.

20180512_164434-1598206649.jpg

“Black” by Kwanza Osajyefo and Tim Smith 3 is a graphic novel about a world where superpowers exist: it’s just that the only people who have them are black. Kareem is walking home with friends after playing some basketball when they are shot dead by police who recklessly mistake them for somebody else. When Kareem comes back to life in the ambulance, he breaks out to run for his life. Little does he know that the police are not the only ones after him and healing factor is just the beginning of his powers.

This is a very fast-paced story with a complex plot. Aside from the cover and the chapter title pages, the entire graphic novel is in black and white. The art is both striking and consistent with the superhero genre, and effectively captures the diversity of the cast of characters. Kareem is a particularly interesting character who is determined to find his own morals in a new world that tries to convince him everything is black and white. I think there are some great messages in this story and that brings really important social issues into a popular but perhaps underutilised genre.

I think that there were only two things that I found a bit challenging about this book. While I completely appreciate the significance of the use of a monochrome palette, the lack of colour did make the different superpowers a bit unclear – especially in the action scenes. This story also does feel like it is quite rushed. Not rushed in the sense of quality, but rushed in the sense of the reader is not really given a lot of time to process information and meet new characters. I actually think that the contents of this story could have been stretched out over a few volumes rather than squeezed into the one volume, and it would have given a bit more space to explore some of the great characters and themes that were introduced.

Nevertheless, this is a fun and hard-hitting graphic novel that I was so glad to finally get in my mailbox. I’m looking forward to seeing what the authors come up with next.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews, Graphic Novels