ANZAC Author Reading Challenge 2015
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January- Richard Flanagan
March-Michelle De Kretser
I just read Flanagan's Narrow Road to the Deep North last month and it was one of my best books for the year, so if anyone hasn't chosen yet......
I have Gould's Book of Fish on my shelf, and I will be reading that in January. I've already read Wanting and The Sound of One Hand Clapping.
January, I think, is going to be good. Those of you who are reading Narrow Road to the Deep North are in for a treat. It really is a great book. Plus, I'm pleased to see that most of Richard Flanagan's books have been claimed by someone. It should be fun.
As for our Fiona Kidman this is my first time reading her. I must admit that, before I started doing this, my knowledge of New Zealand writers was very poor. Of the New Zealand writers featured here, Katherine Mansfield is the only one I've read before.
Lloyd Jones I knew of vaguely, he was meant to be at the Byron Bay Writer's festival but was a late cancellation. He had completely slipped my mind until I started researching for this. Then as if the universe approved, Paint Your Wife was released in all my favourite book shops.
Happy reading everyone.
NZ - Our Toronto Public Library has 4 books by Fiona Kidman but they are only available at the research library and cannot be checked out. So, sadly, I will not be reading anything by her.
Since I am participating in a number of challenges, I think I will leave it at that.
I have not read nor heard of most of these Australian and New Zealand authors. Looking forward to reading some of their works and getting to know them.
Kim Scott, That Deadman Dance
Peter Carey, Bliss or His Illegal Self
Keri Hulme, The Bone People
Patricia Grace, Potiki or Dogside Story
The Narrow Road to the Deep North was my favorite novel published in 2014, and it was a worthy winner of this year's Booker Prize. I enjoyed The Spare Room by Helen Garner and Mr. Pip by Lloyd Jones. I don't think I've read anything by the other ANZAC authors, but I'll follow along to see what others are reading.
I must admit I'd never heard of Jean Batten. (Maybe the Kiwi's amongst us can shed some light.) After reading this, I'm not sure I LIKE her, but I do agree that she was brave and an pioneer. I guess that ultimately being liked is for we mere mortals, while the extraordinary ones as busy doing other things.
Among the Ozzies, I'm looking forward to Peter Carey, as have had Oscar and Lucinda waiting on the stacks for ages and really looking forward to that one and to seeing the movie as well. I may also go for Parrot and Olivier in America, which I've got on audio narrated by Humphrey Bower whom I like a lot, if I can fit it in. I'll also make room for at least one or two of Kerry Greenwood's Phryne Fisher mysteries in November for good fun.
Among the Kiwis, I'll probably borrow Alan Duff's Once Were Warriors from the library, since I saw the movie a couple of times over the years and really loved it. I only discovered Katherine Mansfield last year and absolutely fell in love, so will definitely read one of her short story collections in may. I acquired two lovely little Bloomsbury Classics editions from the Book Depo, so it'll be one of those two. Also joining in for Witi Ihimaera's Whale Rider in June, also have that one on audio, and got it after seeing the movie which I absolutely adored. Had already planned to read Keri Hulme's The Bone People in August, so that's a done deal.
Thanks for organizing this Jacqui!
Here is a quote from near the end that captures some of the essence of what this book does:
His mind slowly distilled his memory of the POW camps into something beautiful. It was as if he were squeezing out the humiliation of being a slave, drop by drop. First he forgot the horror of it all, later the violence done to them by the Japanese. In his old age he could honestly say he could recall no acts of violence....Then his memory of the sickness and the wretched deaths, the cholera and the beri-beri and the pellagra, that too went; even the mud went, and later so too the memory of the hunger. And finally one afternoon he realised he could remember none of his time as a POW at all. His mind was still good; he knew he had once been a POW as he knew he had once been a foetus. But of that experience nothing remained. What did was an irrevocable idea of human goodness, as undeniable as it was beautiful. At the age of ninety-four he was finally a free man.
Jacqui started it, but I hadn't noticed it until now. I thought I'd link it here, as I don't think it has been linked already, and perhaps I'm not the only one to have missed it.
I'm trying to read my ROOTS this year so this challenge was an opportunity to dig into the book. And what a book it was. Fantastical, horrific, hilarious even at times: I was absorbed and repelled often at the same time. Like Riven Rock that I just read, this book is based in non-fiction but veers into fiction without always making clear which is which. Gould, the narrator and erstwhile painter of fish, is as unreliable as they come even as he seems to be stripping his life and soul bare for the reader.
My first Cate Kennedy - a very good debut novel that takes place in Tasmania. Fifteen year old Sophie goes on a week long trek in the Tasmanian mountains with her father who has been out of her life since she was 7 months old. The parents' characters were interesting, but not particularly likeable. In fact, I kept wanting to yell at them as I was reading. Sophie was a rebellious teenager, in some ways, wise beyond her years. The plot was somewhat predictable, but overall the book was a compelling read.
Dark Roots by Cate Kennedy (4.75 stars), library paperback, short stories, contemporary fiction
I truly loved this book, and only a couple of the stories fell just shy of the perfection mark, which is why it gets not quite a full five stars from me. I picked this up from the library for the ANZAC challenge - Cate Kennedy is an Australian author, and I was not familiar with her work. I have been branching out into short story collections, although it is not my favorite format. This collection is different - I loved the humor, the wit, the charm of people caught in the actions of every day life. Some of these people are at crossroads moments, and what was unexpected was that in the beginning of most of them, I had no idea of the sex of the main character. You learn that as the story unfolds, but first just the voice that could be from any skin, any gender - just...human. The first story, What Thou and I Did, Till We Loved was sublime; a perfect read for me on what it means to love someone.
And the writing! The writing is gorgeous, and thought and feeling flow with each sentence, taking us along on the journey of each story. The unexpected sharp smack of dark humor and the hum of edginess all woven into the structure that is a paragraph. This collection is a feast for the senses. When I had finished reading it, I wanted nothing more than to turn back to the first story and begin again. Which is just what I did. Highly recommended, even if, like me, short stories are not your favorite. This collection shows how very much can be done with so little - fully-fleshed characters and plot and an advanced story arc all in miniature. Small, but not abridged.
"I watch people sometimes, wonder how they can walk around with the weight of what they know. Wonder if they feel like me, stumbling with lead shoes on the bottom of the ocean, swimming in a sea of the unsayable. It's a mistake we make, thinking that it's words that tell us everything. It's sound that breaks glasses, cracks windows, sends cats up trees. Bats hear more than humans, understand more noise, let alone dogs. Maybe we're just not getting it, standing here listening for sensible speech, dying of loneliness and waiting for whatever it is. How do we know we're not calling and calling all the time, our throats so tight with it, it's too high to hear?"
An interesting approach - not a mystery, but a story about a mystery. Coincidentally, it draws heavily on, and references Hercule Poirot's Christmas which I just re-read two weeks ago. I could not stand the main character, but the book was very well-written with wonderful descriptions of Ceylon.
I am trying to choose between Mortal Fire and Daylight by Elizabeth Knox. I have mixed reviews from a friend on Daylight, so I will have to see.
I have chosen The Hamilton Case for my read by Michelle de Kretser. >46 LoisB: I love Poirot, so this should be fun. :)
The May thread is now open at: Christina Stead & Katherine Mansfield
Obviously if anyone else has any suggestions of Australian or New Zealand authors they would like to see next year, feel free to add your suggestions.
or a month of anthology or short story collections such as Frank Sargeson, Maurice Duggan, Essential New Zealand Short Stories, Anthology of New Zealand Literature
NZ writers to consider:
Joy Cowley - written several well received adult novels though known mainly for her children's books and educational readers.
Ronald Hugh Morrieson
C K Stead
I'm less well versed in Australian writers so am listing writers whose books are in my to read pile -
Hope this is helpful
Christina Stead Prize for Fiction (named after our May author)- The Snow Kimono by Mark Henshaw; UTS Glenda Adams Prize for New Writing- An Elegant Young Man by Luke Carman & the overall Book of the Year was awarded to The Bush by Don Watson.
Should we add Mark Henshaw, Luke Carmen and/or Don Watson to our list for next year?
"Oceanic in its rhythms and understanding, brilliant in its use of language and image, moving in its largeness of spirit, compelling in its narrative scope and style, this intriguing journey is a celebration and lament—of beginning and return, of obliteration and recovery, of silencing, and of powerful utterance. Both tentative and daring, it speaks to the present and a possible future through stories, dreams, rhythms, songs, images and documents mobilized from the incompletely acknowledged and still dynamic past."
I just got back from a winter campout and I am tired, but seriously, based on the above, I. Have. No. Idea. What this book is about.
The June thread is now up and running at: Kim Scott & Witi Ihimaera
Our January author, Richard Flanagan donated his prize money from last years Prime Ministers Literary Award to the foundation.
"Flanagan said words were the first beautiful things his father knew, and he wanted to help close the Indigenous literacy gap.
"If just one of those children in turn becomes a writer, if just one brings to Australia and to the world an idea of the universe that arises out of that glorious lineage of 60,000 years of Australian civilisation, then I will think this prize has rewarded not just me, but us all," he said."
We in the LT community don't need much convincing about the value of reading in a person's life, so I think it is a good idea if every now and again we give a thought to organisations (and people) that help people who for one reason or another finding reading difficult.
In NZ, Alan Duff started the Duffy Books in Homes charity in 1992 which is still running successfully in schools - he noticed on a visit to a lower decile school that many children came from bookless homes and he wanted to change that. http://www.booksinhomes.org.nz/Home.aspx
Also, that's a great list of writers. Some more to add to next year.
I think your earlier suggestion about having a month focusing on writers with 3 or fewer books might be a good idea too. There are so many new Aus and NZ writers that only have one book out there that I would love to introduce to people here, but I realise that it's no fun for people who have already read their one and only novel.
For example- Fiona McFarlane's The Night Guest was my go to book for recommending to people last year. But it's her first (and therefore only) book, so I couldn't include her this year.
I don't know either of these authors, so I'm excited to see what people are choosing. :)
The thread is now up and running at: https://www.librarything.com/topic/193003
Details are here: http://mwf.com.au/session/the-book-that-changed-me-ruth-park/
The August thread is now open at: Helen Garner & Keri Hulme
Just in case anyone wants to know, I LOVE Ruth Park. I just read A Fence Around the Cuckoo and it was lovely.
ETA: My spreadsheet says that I listed last month's read in the thread, and it doesn't show on THIS thread, so that makes me think that there's usually a monthly one. I don't see a September or October thread, either one.
>87 LoisB: I started Things I Didn't Know and we had irreconcilable differences in the first 100 pages. I may or may not try something else. All his books are So Very, Very Long! I'm not normally put off by long books, but RL is kind of busy at the moment. :)
I've got Chappy for my NZ one. It looks pretty good. And short. I'm running out of month already.
My plan was to read one or the other of the month's authors. I missed my intended N.Z. read for May. Ended with 7 Australians and 4 New Zealanders. Nice little challenge. I enjoyed participating!
Jan:Aus: Richard Flanagan - The Narrow Road to the Deep North (3.6 stars) 1/31/15
Jan:NZ: Fiona Kidman
Feb:Aus: Cate Kennedy - The World Beneath (3.4 stars) 2/13/15
Feb:NZ: Maurice Shadbolt
Mar:Aus: Michelle De Kretser - The Lost Dog (3 stars) 3/30/15
Mar:NZ: Elizabeth Knox
Apr:Aus: Roger McDonald - Mr. Darwin's Shooter (3.3 stars) 4/28/15
Apr:NZ: Alan Duff
May:Aus: Christina Stead
May:NZ: Katherine Mansfield - Option: The Garden Party, and Other Stories (didn't get to it) 5/15
Jun:Aus: Kim Scott
Jun:NZ: Witi Ihimaera - The Whale Rider (3.5 stars) 6/24/15
Jul:Aus: Peter Carey
Jul:NZ: Lloyd Jones - Here at the End of the World We Learn to Dance (3.3 stars) 7/21/15
Aug:Aus: Helen Garner - The Spare Room (3.1) 8/27/15
Aug:NZ: Keri Hulme
Sep:Aus: Ruth Park - Things in Corners (2.5) 9/28/15
Sep:NZ: Michael King
Oct:Aus: Robert Hughes
Oct:NZ: Patricia Grace - Tu (4 stars) 10/30/15
Nov:Aus: Kerry Greenwood
Nov:NZ: Ngaio Marsh - Spinsters in Jeopardy (3.3 stars) 11/12/15
Dec:Aus: Matthew Reilly - Seven Deadly Wonders (3.5 stars) 12/10/15
Dec:NZ: Paul Cleave
I managed to read the following - wasn't keen on the first two, but the other five were all wonderful:
Richard Flanagan - Gould's Book of Fish
Michelle De Kretser - The Lost Dog
Alan Duff - Once Were Warriors
Katherine Mansfield - The Garden Party
Witi Ihimaera - The Whale Rider
Peter Carey - Oscar and Lucinda
Robert Hughes - The Fatal Shore
I started on Cate Kennedy's The World Beneath, but really wasn't enjoying it. I still may get to Ruth Park. I'm really glad to have had the excuse to finally read The Fatal Shore, Oscar and Lucinda and Once were Warriors, and I'm delighted to have discovered Katherine Mansfield.
All in all, an excellent booky adventure.
>94 evilmoose: I will give a warble for Ruth Park. I really enjoyed A Fence Around the Cuckoo.
Here's my wrap-up
January- Richard Flanagan - The Narrow Road to the Deep North
February-Cate Kennedy - The World Beneath
March-Michelle De Kretser - The Hamilton Case
April- Roger McDonald - Mr. Darwin's Shooter
May- Christina Stead - Pass
June- Kim Scott - That Deadman Dance
July- Peter Carey - The Chemistry of Tears
August- Helen Garner - The Spare Room
September- Ruth Park - A Fence Around the Cuckoo
October- Robert Hughes - Pass
November- Kerry Greenwood - Cocaine Blues
December- Matthew Reilly - Seven Deadly Wonders
January- Fiona Kidman - Captive Wife
February- Maurice Shadbolt - The House of Strife
March- Elizabeth Knox - Mortal Fire
April- Alan Duff - Once Were Warriors
May- Katherine Mansfield - In A German Pension
June- Witi Ihimaera - Ask the Posts of the House, The Whale Rider
July- Lloyd Jones - Mister Pip
August- Keri Hulme - pass
September- Michael King - Being Pakeha
October- Patricia Grace - Chappy
November- Ngaio Marsh - A Man Lay Dead
December- Paul Cleave - Cemetery Lake
James McNeish (NZ)
Kate Forsyth (Aus)
Ronald Hugh Morrieson (NZ)
Thomas Keneally (Aus)
Mar & Apr - your turn?
I thought that we (I) might do better if we nominated 4-6 writers for a two month read as I did rather poorly in 2015 getting stuck on Christina Stead.
I'll set up a thread this afternoon, just need to get dinner sorted.