Here's a list that gladdens. What Youth and "7 books you will psyche on and should totally read."
I often bemoan the fact that good writing is a dying art. It ain't necessarily true but it sometimes feels that way. The yoof, it always seemed to me, could buy a Canikon for a couple hunge, flood the 'net with images, and call 'emselves artists - easy! But unlike photography there's no shortcut to good writing: no autofocus, no colour correcting software - it's hard fucken work. And the first step toward it is to read lots and lots of great writers. So yeah, glad to see the yoof - What Yoof! - spruiking seven good books. Bit limited in scope and style but a good list nonetheless.
"Age of Folly". Lewis H. Lapham. Probably have to get it from his website (Lapham's Quarterly) but if you have any interest in US politics it is a must read.
Getting a new release book on sale doesn't bode well for what's between the covers. A week or so after publication and the book shop is already scratching out the price and rewriting it $10 cheaper, it's either a bargain or a sign that should be heeded. When I bought Tim Winton's latest book on sale I took it as the former and hoped I wasn't gonna waste my long weekend.
A handful of pages in I was already happy with the decision, 'cos even in that short time it was clear Winton had absolutely fucken nailed the voice of his latest protagonist, Jaxie Clackton, an at risk teenager from outback WA who's on the receiving end of wretched events and has to split town.
By turns he ends up sharing an isolated shepherd's hut with a priest serving forced sequestration for a crime never quite divulged.
An abused teenager and a priest together in a hut: on paper it sounds too cliched to bother continuing with. I flashed on that when I was already well through the book, struck by the fact I hadn't yet thought about how hackneyed the book could've been, yet it wasn't cause Winton serves up two thoroughly convincing characters.
Each circles around the other, first 'cause they don't trust each other - is the other person what they say they are? - and then when they come to rely on each other. The dialogue ricocheting between coarse 'strine and sing song Irish with the lonely yet eloquent priest expressing his dismay and confusion at the religous life.
Well worth the read, even at full cover price.
Have read so many books in the last year. For Australian gritty novels, 'The Dry' by Jane Harper is a first novel classic. I highly recommend it.
She followed it up with 'Force of Nature', which also features the main character form 'The Dry'. Different to Winton, (who could write like him?), but has that quality of Australianness (?) that is hard to describe, but you know it when you read it.
Currently reading 'Dark Money' by Jane Mayer, a staff writer for the New Yorker. Follows the money trail of billionaire Americans, principally the Koch brothers, and how they have subverted democracy and the judicial system through campaign financing.
Gives a great insight to how democracy has been fu#@ed over by big money, and how so many of the lines we have heard from our conservative philistines are just a re-hash of lines that were being used in America 10 years earlier. It's sort of scary, creepy and amazing at the same time. Could have used some tighter editing, it's a long read, but the content, woah!
Read 'Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance' earlier in the year. A book about a guy who lost his mind years ago and went in search of where it might be, and finds that it is on the road to him going mad again. (no, that's not exactly true, but can be seen that way)
Wonderfully coincided with a time where I was losing my mind due to stress at work and home. Nearly lost the plot.
What a great pun!
Nice way to sum up ZATAOMM. For many years that was my fave book, the one I'd push onto people, lose copies and have to buy another even though I'd already read it so many times.
When I joined Facebook back in 2007 or whatever, Robert Pirsig was my first FB friend and I was his. Mark Zuckerberg brought us together and we spent a wonderful 3 minutes messaging each other.
I will definitely read "Dark Money" batfink. I am still on political biographies. Three volumes of LBJ and great bio's of Khrushchev, Nixon and currently Gorbachev. Not sure that there is a logical follow up to that list. After those four everyone else seems lightweight.
Yeah BB, Dark Money will probably be an easy read in comparison to those monster reads. Warning, you may get very angry, although I'm sure you know the outline already. It's just when you read the details and how it all worked, and how the tax system is being (ab)used to support politically mindless doctrines, it just sets you on edge thinking about it.
There have been many statesmen in US history who warned about curbing the powers of the filthy rich, and that you can have vast inequality, or democracy, but not both.
And yet here we are.
Stu, that's funny, my son is my only facebook friend!
You wouldn't believe how much my mind was deteriorating, due to my personal circumstances, as I went through ZATAOMM. Such a journey, adventure, ordeal, odyssey!
Only just held on really.
batfink the Nixon and LBJ biographies reveal how much policy was dependent on funding. Given that and the obvious influence of the Koch brothers in recent years there will probably not be much to surprise me. Piss me off? Almost certainly, though after Daniel Ellsberg's book " The Doomsday Machine", I don't think anything could really shock me, that is seriously disturbing.
Lucky strike at a tiny book sale at a small town market stall :
Lustrum - Robert Harris . The life and death struggles for control of the soul and direction of the Roman Empire. Cicero contends with a rising Caeser , the looming spectre of Pompey , the influential wealth of Crassus and the devious Catalina. Written through the eyes of his secretary/ slave Tiro.
High Society - Ben Elton. Elton turns his storytelling prowess ,his perspicacity and his biting one liners onto the subject of a modern society coming to grips with the failure of its war on drugs.
My brother Jack - George Johnston. A memoir and snapshot of Aussie life spanning the great wars. Winner of the Miles Franklin in 1964.
Fishes of Northern and North Western Australia - Sainsbury, kailola and Leyland. A comprehensive photographic reference to all those amazing vertebrates inhabiting the best stretch of coast in Australia.
Boys from Binjiwunyawunya - Robert Barret. Les Norton doing what he does best : thumping pests, throwing sheilas up in the air , enjoying life and pocketing a nice little earn along the way.
Great campfire reading.
Perspicacity? What kind of a wanker are you?
Wild little mix you've got there, from the Roman Empie to Binjiwunyawunya. Happy reading.
"The Great War For Civilisation - The Conquest Of The Middle East". Robert Fisk
Holy shit this is a book. He has reported every war in the Middle East since the 70s and has never hesitated to report exactly what he witnessed. On the ball? He interviewed bin Laden 3 times before 9/11. If you have a strong stomach and want to know the closest thing to the truth about Israel and the Palestinians, the Iran/Iraq war, the liberation of Kuwait, the Russians in Afghanistan and the US invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, read this book. If not. Well ignorance is bliss they tell me.
What kind of wanker am I ?
The ultimate wanker !
Two hands but only one dick .....why Huey , why ?
But yeah, great little camp fire mixup. Hit the library in town for a few more slices of gold. I’ll keep you posted. I know you will be on the edge of your seat waiting for the next installment Stu.
PS BB why all the reading ? You could’ve gleamed the same result from 15 minutes of the Today show each morning. Kochie is the father figure that can’t lie.
Halfway through Shepherd’s Hut by Tim Winton and loving it .
Thank you very much Mr Winton !
Couldn't agree more, BB.
Read the book a couple of times (phew, not 'easy reading'), and we were lucky enough to see Robert Fisk talk about it live. Righteous indignation and intelligence burns in that man!
Island, if I had to nominate a book from today that is likely to be still read in a couple of hundred years, The Great War For Civilisation, would be it. It is the history of our times. Tacitus had nothing on Fisk.
Sounds like a profound book BB. I did read "Fiasco" by Thomas E Ricks and was stunned that powerpoint was used to plan the invasion. wtf
Has anybody read this? Sounds like it might be OK
"Cocaine and Surfing" Is the Funniest Surfing Book Ever
Chas Smith's new book isn't really about cocaine and surfing. That's OK—it's still amazing.
Dead mans trousers by Irvine Welsh.
A nice little romp through the middle stages of life as lived by the Trainspotting (ex) junkies and their associates. Good fun with the odd snippet of political opinion thrown into the mix.
Surfing and Cocaine. Haven’t read it yet Chook but I definitely will. Have you got it yet ?
Heard mixed reports but I'll probably get it at some stage.
Month or so ago I cherry-picked from this here thread and did an Amazon order. Got 'Dark Money', 'The Divide', and at BB's suggestion, 'The Great War For Civilisation'. At 1,500 pages it's as fat as a housebrick and weighs almost as much. You risk wrist injury holding it for any length of time.
It's a commitment, but so far - I'm 400 pages in - it's well worth it. Current chapter is the Iran/Iraq war, started by Saddam Hussein and financed by America. Hussein is having regular meetings with Donald Rumsfeld, taking chemicals from Germany to launch chemical wafare against the Iranians, the first time since WW1, the world is standing back while Iraq wipes out Kurdish villages (5,000 people, mostly civilians, were killed in 48 hrs by mustard gas at just one site, Habalj in 1988), and America is doing everything it can to blame Iran.
Of course that would soon change when Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990.
Each chapter covers a regional war and there are dirty foreign fingerprints all over it. The ruse of 'tribal infighting' becomes less convincing the more you read. Vast inter-state alliances were fractured by foreign interference.
It’s organised crime and nothing less , Stu.
No doubt it’s intriguing, but 1500 pages of dry facts that induce jaw setting anger would break me. Way too much harsh reality . Got to have my dose of sunshine and lollipops in there or else I’d be hanging from the rafters with the all the grim bleakness of the world.
The state hates and resents you . Always has , always will. No different from the monarchies we used to endure.
Here’s a fun fact : During that good ol’ hootenanny called the Great War a hundred years ago the three main antagonists- the Tsar of Russia , the Kaiser of Germany and the King of England were all cousins. How many people died fighting that particular family feud !
The rich get richer and the poor get the picture.
Same as it ever was.
Here's another fun fact (though not at all literary), there's a pro surfer in Cali called Duran Barr!
I've seen kids called Kirra, Avoca, and Sandon, but surely Duran Barr is the best yet?
?inspired by homer simpson's band the "be sharps" "we want a name that gets a little less funny every time you hear it.." everywhere you go there are "pro surfers" you've never heard of, i figure they get free wax and a discount board from the local shop
Blowin, no joking, I am seeing a psychologist at the moment for help with anger management at least partly triggered by that book. There's a lot to be angry about when you are in the mood. I went there and had trouble getting back! Take care Stu!
On a lighter note I don't think I have mentioned Anthony Powell's "A Dance to the Music of Time" before, which is an incredible oversight. It is a 12 novel sequence covering the period roughly from 1930 to 1970. It is set in England and follows the lives of a huge cast of characters in a similar but much more entertaining way than Proust's epic, to which it is often very favourably compared. A great read!
Has anyone read “Gifts of Unknown Things” by Lyall Watson?
Would be interested to hear opinions. Plus, I have a problem; I compare every new book to this and nothing quite stacks up.
Life changers these are..
Only one real way to deal with anger and that’s to remove the negative stimulus that’s growing the culture of bad vibes within you . It’s like a festering splinter creating an infection in your flesh - you can take antibiotics all you like but it’ll only heal properly once the offending item is removed.
Try some time out in the great outdoors BB . Away from all the stresses that humanity and the built environments ferment.
Get stoned , lie on your back and look at the stars .
Stress fades like mist in the summer sun.
*listen to the lyrics and discover the song for yourself If you can . Forget Sunny getting so many barrels he’s got a headache.
Thanks Blowin I have removed myself from the major problem ..... my place of employment .... and have decided to give myself over to mindless hedonism.
Almost finished The Snowman by Jo Nesbo.
A murder thriller set in Norway.
I’ve enjoyed it a lot, lots of twists and turns. And the lead character is an alcoholic detective who keeps you interested in what’s going to happen next
The last book I finished a couple of weeks ago was The Tattooist Of Auschwitz.
Very sad, depressing, unbeleivable story that is true. It really makes you think of how easily we have got it now.
And how tough humans can be when they need to.
Just noticed The Snowman has been made into a movie
Just finished Eyrie, just started Breath .... haven't read Winton since Cloudstreet.
Whadya make of Eyrie, Pete?
I nearly folded it twice ... tough read, Stu, the big W doesn't muck around with a half-arsed plot, with him you have to dive in. And already I know not to read Breath too quickly.
"The End" is now available as a download from Amazon. Hard copies in the shops in a couple of weeks. It is the eagerly awaited, by me anyway, English translation of vol 6 of Karl Ove Knausgaard's "My Struggle"
Pretty sure that for most people by Vol 6 it’s not just Knausgaard that’s struggling.
The making of Martin Sparrow.
Driven by literal provincialism I read 'Storyland' by Catherine McKinnon which was recently short-listed for this year's Miles Franklin Award. Always like recognising places in novels: Chandler's LA, McCarthy's Texas, Winton's West Oz, but Storyland is set here in the Illawarra, even has a scene that unfolds at Sandon Point.
The book starts in 1796 with Bass and Flinders making landfall near Port Kembla, it then jumps to 1822, then 1900, 1998, 2033, and finally 2717, all of the stories concerned with the land and people around Lake Illawarra, the tales intersecting in various ways that mix fact and fantasy, the past and the future, suburbia and dystopia. The tale leaps into a distant future where memory has been lost and a people are trying to recreate it - analogous to the people who once wandered the land, who's lives and memories were intertwined with it till the land was taken from them - and at that point the book contracts like a concertina back through time: 2033, 1998, 1900, 1822, and finally 1796 with Bass, Flinders, and the boy Martin facing down a bunch of "Indians" in the channel between Lake Illawarra and the sea, uncertain of their intentions. Hostile or friendly?
It's less a book about a specific narrative - there are five seperate stories after all - then it is a book about primal feelings, stuff that transcends age and culture and language, even though it's set in a very small patch of earth.
you mention chandler, (if you havent already) you should read philip kerr for his bernie gunther series, a noir vibe with a hard-bitten (of course) german detective set around WW2/nazi era .
Thanks for the heads up, LL.
Sapiens A Brief History of Mankind and the follow up Homo Deus A Brief History of Tomorrow. Both by Yuval Noah Harari, a historian etc from Jerusalem Uni. uncommon clarity of thinking and concise presentation of history from a mostly new perspective. Cracking reads although Homo Deus can be a bit depressing with his views of what could / what is likely to happen in the future
Rightio, here's a book (and site) that may come in real handy for those commenters on the political-style threads... especially of late.
In the foreword, John Pilger writes:
'In Britain, just one website offers consistently independent media criticism. This is the remarkable Media Lens – remarkable because its founders and editors as well as its only writers, David Edwards and David Cromwell, since 2001 have concentrated their gaze not on the usual suspects, the Tory press, but the paragons of reputable liberal journalism – the BBC, the Guardian, Channel 4 News.
Their method is simple. Meticulous in their research, they are respectful and polite when they email a journalist to ask why he or she produced such a one-sided report, or failed to disclose essential facts or promoted discredited myths. The replies they receive are often defensive, at times abusive; some are hysterical, as if they have pushed back a screen on a protected species.
My impression is that they have shattered a silence about corporate journalism. Like Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky in Manufacturing Consent, they represent a Fifth Estate, questioning, deconstructing and ultimately demystifying the media's monopoly.
What is especially interesting about them is that neither is a journalist. David Edwards was a teacher, David Cromwell is a former scientist. Yet, their understanding of the morality of real journalism – a term rarely used; let's call it true objectivity – is a bracing quality of their online Media Lens dispatches.
In 2007, they were awarded the Gandhi Foundation International Peace Award. I was asked to contribute to the citation. "Without Media Lens during the attack on and occupation of Iraq," I wrote, "the full gravity of that debacle might have been consigned to oblivion, and to bad history."
Such is the importance of their work, which I think is heroic. I would place a copy of this book in every journalism school that services the corporate system, as they all do.'
Listen up you slaverin’, quaverin’, melon-carryin’ poltroons...2018 is the centenary of arguably the greatest children’s book ever written in Australia, Norman Lindsay's classic, The Magic Pudding.
Have a listen: http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/the-hub-on-books/celebratin...
Thanks factotum, medialens is well worth a look. I had a look at the page you linked to but will have a deeper browse later.
BlindBoy, here is Pilger's foreword in its entirety. Well worth a read.
Thanks factotum. I find this essential to understanding ...... well everything.
Always been a fan (and late 80s - early 00s practitioner!) of Debord's technique of 'détournement'.
Remember this crew?
Check out their gallery.
Staying with the Aussie connection, Debord also informs the work of McKenzie Wark, one of the world's leading scholars and theorists of the 'Age of the Anthropocene'.
"The age of the Anthropocene announces that the human and natural worlds are interlinked as never before. Now that we have a hand on the scales, we can no longer rely on nature or ecology to balance what we take from nature with what we give back. In McKenzie Wark’s words, ‘The Anthropocene is a series of metabolic rifts, where one molecule after another is extracted by labor and technique to make things for humans, but the waste products don’t return so that the cycle can renew itself.’ What follows is a call to arms in which art and leisure, science and philosophy hack into each other in order to produce a way of thinking that works on both a pragmatic (proletarian) and a philosophical (bourgeois) level."
Whew! Worthy stuff!
“ Human and natural worlds are interlinked as never before “
Already incorrect and incorrect on both a macro and micro interpretation.
Sounds a lot like an inverse wank book where it’s the writer , not the reader , doing all the wanking.
I’d like to hear about some of your work spraying graffiti on billboards though.
PS Have you ever heard of a Talking Turkey ?
"Already incorrect and incorrect on both a macro and micro interpretation."
"Sounds a lot like a wank book that actually is all about the articles."
"I’d like to hear about some of your work spraying graffiti on billboards though."
Maybe get to it afterwards.
Well it’s based on the entirely incorrect thinking that humanity and nature are , or ever were , in an way seperate.
Are ants seperate from nature ? Or chimpanzees ? Mankind is just another animal . And that is literally , not semantically. . Even as a supposition it’s a fantasy to believe man could ever be seperate from nature.
And the thinking is downhill from there.
I haven’t got time to go into it now , going out for dinner. Maybe later.