Thursday, April 5, 2012

A life less literary

The new Queensland Premier, one Campbell Newman, has just announced that the QLD Premier’s Literary Awards (QPLA) have been scrapped. Politics aside, this absolutely stinks. Reeks to high heaven in fact. Like a dead fish which has been stuffed down the back of a decrepit sofa to punish a man with a wandering willy. The QPLA have played a huge role in the creation of a thriving, rich and innovative Queensland Arts scene, they have launched impressive writerly careers and given encouragement to every little Queensland bookworm who ever dreamed of putting pen to paper. R.I.P. You will be sorely missed.

Perhaps I should recuse myself since I am indeed a bookworm of epic proportions. Or perhaps we bespectacled non-arthropod invertebrates are exactly the sorts who should be standing up and objecting to this kind of short-sightedness. I shall stop there in case I blow a gasket or lose a body part or suffer some other malfunction commensurate with my age and experience.

All this talk of books has made me have a good old think about my current reading list and what I’m going to tackle next.

My bedside table is groaning under the weight of five tomes:

In Tasmania by Nicholas Shakespeare
The story of Tasmania told via the life and legacy of “The Father of Tasmania” Anthony Fenn Kemp, a corrupt but interesting figure.

Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey
A bildungsroman set in a mining town in the mid 1960s, it follows the story of bookish Charlie Bucktin and mixed race maverick Jasper Jones. Small-town bigotry and tender friendship ensue.

Weekend Wodehouse by P.G. Wodehouse
A collection from the funniest writer ever to step foot on the face of the earth including Drones Club tales, Mr. Mulliner stories, and stories of Jeeves, Lord Emsworth, and Ukridge. The selection also features extracts from Wodehouse's novels and non-fiction writings.

Lord Emsworth Acts for the Best by P.G. Wodehouse (I REALLY like Wodehouse)
A complete collection of the short stories in Wodehouse's Blandings series including my favourite tale “Lord Emsworth and the Girlfriend.”

Fruit of the Lemon by Andrea Levy
Set in 1970s Britain, this engaging novel charts the journey of Faith Jackson as she negotiates her Black British identity and finds out “where she comes from.”

I wonder how representative our book choices are of our personalities. Do we read to see ourselves reflected or to escape ourselves? Does reading about Tasmania's dark yet fascinating history hint at a darkness in me or an absolute passion for Wodehouse suggest I might be pining for "the old country"? Does reading five books at once make me a little bit odd?

I usually like to change gear and read something completely different to my last book but this time I already have a biography, short stories and novels set on opposite sides of the earth. As for what's next, I'm not sure. Perhaps I’ll see who wins the QPLA for 2012 and read that… oh wait…

What are you reading? How do you decide what you’ll choose next?


  1. I had to look up bildungsroman. Great word. This blog is also educational.

  2. You learn something new every day :-D

  3. I am not happy about the abolishment of the Literary Awards either. I always get such a buzz when I read a novel penned by a Queensland author, I'm clearly still a Maroon jersey girl despite 14 years of living as a southerner.

    I seem to read a lot more non-fiction these days, maybe it's because time to sit and devour a novel is rare. Not sure. The last few days I've finished

    Down to Earth - A guide to Simple Living. (Loved this and think you would too Rach) - Rhonda Hetzel

    My Heart Wanders - Pia Jane Bijkerk

    Currently I'm reading

    Rocks in the Belly - Jon Bauer

    Half A Citizen: Life on Welfare in Australia - John Murhphy, Suellen Murray et al

    Beyond the Rainbow Bridge - Nurturing Our Children from Birth to Seven - Barbara Patterson and Pamela Bradley

    And now am also off to look up bildungsroman!

    Becks x

  4. Ah this is the Rach I love to read! Literary Rach! it is laughable that anyone would even think to abolish Qld's literary awards, I really hope they are saved. I like your list of books and when my own bedside isn't groaning will come back to yours. I'm reading Monique Truong's Bitter in the Mouth quickly before my bookclub meeting this week. I didn't suggest the book and doubt I would have discovered it left to my own devices but I'm so glad I am reading it. There are echoes of some of MJ Hyland's themes without the dark edginess (would writing be MJ Hyland's without the dark edginess?.) Anyway it's beautifully written.

  5. Becks I put a hold on Down to Earth at the library and am a mere 75th in the queue. It seems that quite a few people are interested in living the simple life. In keeping with my vow to "buy less stuff" I am not going to purchase it but hope my turn at the library comes around soon.

    Hannah I hadn't heard of Bitter in the Mouth but I just read an online New York Times review and it looks interesting. Lots of intertextuality which is always exciting for a book worm. MJ Hyland is currently teaching Creative Writing at my old alma mater (University of Manchester), would love to sit in on one of those classes.

  6. It was a very disgusting decision indeed. I wonder if sport will get its budget slashed in the same fashion? Prft.

    You know I am a shocking reader (even though I love books) but at the moment I am reading an anatomy book and a book on how to wrangle twins. I hope to finish both after a few weeks of mat leave and then I'd like to get stuck into another science book...maybe chemistry?

  7. I suspect the sport budget will remain disproportionately healthy - pffft indeed. Hope the twin book proves useful! What sort of chemistry are you interested in?