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Sorry folks, I’ve been incommunicado for several weeks. I am a little embarassed to look at the date stamp on the Shining review.
As far as explanations go, well, Steph and I moved back to Sydney and had a couple of hiccups with our internet service provider. All good now though and I have a backlog of reviews to get to – so time to kick this off once more!
Here’s a photo of Flann O’Brien…for no reason!
Folks I am disappoint.
I had ambitions of ploughing through several books on the long air-journey home to Ireland. In the end a combination of tiredness and Etihad‘s in-flight entertainment service (“OMG – The Warrior’s Way…just try to stop me watching this!”) resulted in my reading only three books.
Which were –
Terry Pratchett’s Carpe Jugulum, the twenty-third Discworld novel. This one is about vampires and in the author’s inimitable style, becomes an essay on the limits of toleration.
Stephen King’s The Mist, a novella I have been meaning to read ever since I first flew to Australia and saw Frank Darabont‘s film adaptation (in-flight entertainment again). I was impressed by the film and thankfully enjoyed the book as well. Although I still don’t like King’s protagonists. He writes them with a series of flaws that are meant to express a sense of honesty I guess, but David Drayton just seems like yet another sleazy alcoholic to me.
Finally J.D. Salinger‘s The Catcher in the Rye. I remember reading this book when I was 12, on the bus from Rathcool village into Dublin city centre at 7am. It was dark and freezing cold. The material of my school uniform was pathetically thin and my coat did not stretch far enough to keep me warm (darn long legs). There I was sitting on the bus seat with my hands hiding the cover – because I thought The Catcher in the Rye was salacious! Reading it now my twelve-year-old self seems so naieve and yet I can still detect in Salinger’s prose this brilliant sense of iconoclasm, masked by the occasionally petulant thoughts of Holden Caufield.
I was also going to read Combined and Uneven Apocalypse by Evan Calder Williams, but at that stage my brain had gone to mush. It is a fascinating premise for a book – a political reading of the use of ‘apocalypses‘ (my thanks to Buffy the Vampire Slayer) in film. Never fear, a review is coming.
I will write up more direct reviews of the three books in my usual manner in the next few days. This is just to let you all know I made it to Ireland and am happily sipping tea on a cold morning watching my dog snore in her sleep.
Take care everyone.
Well tomorrow night’s the night! I am about to crawl into bed before tomorrow morning’s early start and flying down to Melbourne for the launch of Joe Reich’s I Know Precious Little at 6.30 at Readings, 701 Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn, East Melbourne.
Oh and I will be presenting the author.
Now as for the future of this blog – I am going to continue writing reviews. Frankly I am having too much fun. I also have some news – Stephanie has set me yet another challenge! This time it is to see just how many books I can read on the 22 hour flight home to Dublin. I decided to visit my folks for a short holiday and she thought this a challenge almost as demanding as my two hundred and eighty seven reviews….well it will mean missing out on the on-flight entertainment.
Looking forward to what the future holds people.
And if you’re around tomorrow night in Melbourne, do drop round to say hello.
As you can imagine I am ridiculously excited about this and eager to try out my Irish brogue on a live audience.
The event is set to commence at 6.30 at Readings, 701 Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn, East Melbourne. So if you’re in town, do come along for chat.
Right I am going to start practicing my vocal projection exercises…
When Emmet first put out the call for fellow bloggers to cover his gruelling book-a-day regime while he and his lovely bride, Stephanie, enjoy some much deserved time off renewing their vows, I thought: “Yippee, now I can review a grown-up fiction book!”
I thought to heck (as we Canadians rarely swear outright even in our thoughts) with my blog manifesto, for once I’ll review some great Canadian adult lit. I worked myself up into a fervour thinking of all the wonderful works of fiction I could cover and how I could finally write about all the great things (sexual proclivities, adultery, drugs and the other perversities of humanity) that adult fiction has to offer (although I do review many a YA title that covers that stuff too!)
I started making a short list, I racked my brain and I eagerly fingered titles in the bookshops and library looking for just the right book.
What a rush!
Then my Canadian sensibilities and a little serendipity took over and I found the perfect children’s book to mark this occasion and thus, just like that my short-lived dreams of moving over to the adult sphere (however briefly) dissolved.
It was just that Better Together by Sheryl and Simon Shapiro and illustrated by Dušan Petričić (ISBN: 9781554512782, Annick Press, 2011) fit so perfect, it was a crying shame not to review it!
Written by the Shapiros, who have themselves been married for 34 years, this charming book of short poems celebrates the beauty when two (or more) substances come together to create something new and wonderful.
I know right? It was fate!
I love books with poems for young children. They love the bouncing, rhyming text and adult readers love the read-out-loud fun factor (anyone with a toddler knows that it’s essential to have books around that are enjoyable to read for the parents because you will be reading them…a lot!)
I love the notion of making chemistry entertaining and breaking down some of the wonderful creations in life into their components. Once wee readers get a handle on chocolate milk, cinnamon toast, music, mud, well the world is their oyster.
I also adore the ink drawings that accompany each short verse and illustrate the steps of these mixtures coming together in a fun way. Petričić has a knack for appealing to the child’s eye and mind. It’s no wonder as this award-winning illustrator of such children’s classics as Mattland and Rude Ramsay and the Rearing Radishes authored by the Canadian great, Margaret Atwood (sorry Emmet) began drawing at age four and has never stopped!
Sheryl and Simon Shapiro are also the perfect example of two very different elements can come together to create some beautiful things!
When they met over 35 years ago in South Africa they had very different interests, but over time, their interests changed again and branched into various arts and found lots of common ground. One of their own great creations, their son Stephen who was born and raised in Toronto (Ontario) is also a published children’s historical author.
Over the years, this couple has found many commonalities to enjoy (a must-have for a successful marriage I think) including writing humorous rhymes for special occasions. So when the opportunity came up to write a book together, this children’s book designer and computer programmer cum photographer, jumped at the chance.
They also agree that working separately could never have produced the amusing book proving once again sometimes we are just better together.
The Shapiros are now working on another rhyming picture book.
So Emmet and Stephanie, as you celebrate your first year together (really after the first it’s all gravy) and many, many more after that I look forward to all the magnificent mixtures/creations you two come up with (and no, I’m not talking about children – Canadians are too polite for such personal discussions) and wish you the best!
Oh and Emmet, I will leave the grown-up book reviews in your very capable and clever hands as I never tire of reading them!