The Best of James Herriot

The best of James Herriot

Lots of gentle reminiscing about the days of old, farming in Yorkshire. It’s about a vet in the 1940s (there was a TV series, All Creatures Great and Small.) When big draught horses were used before tractors, and it was pre-antibiotics. Also, his time spent serving inthe RAF during WWII. Many colour photos and line drawings. Amazing.

Concentration camps – book review

Viktor Frankl, 1949. Was No. 119,104.

Viktor Frankl, 1949. Prisoner No. 119,104.

Due to the neo Nazis being in Chippendale, I refreshed my mind yesterday on concentration camps by reading Viktor Frankl’s account of his time in Auschwitz and Dachau and others in Man’s Search For Meaning.  It was completely dire. He outlines the various ways people mentally coped.
He took the fatalist approach and a couple of times he made what seemed to be the “wrong” choices but luckily, those ended up being the right ones and he survived. (eg. to go on a truck or not; to look after typhoid patients and die of that …) It was impossible to know which way to jump, everything was so unpredictable.

Continue reading

Australian Style book review

9781920989767It’s a beautiful book. I bought it because I like interiors and was interested in a vision of “Australian” style. I couldn’t find many references to Australia, though.

I used to work with Penfold, sub-editing her Source column, and, after reading this book, I can affirm she walks the walk. She always looked glamorous and always had bright, chirpy anecdotes. She’d always say we were brilliant at our work (page 31). She always had a humorous comment to make about a trip to Monte Carlo or a fashion faux pas or the latest mishap by the tradies. She’d send herself up in an Ab Fab Patsy kind of way.

Continue reading

Pooh, a bear of Very Little Brain returns

7240383A new book has been written by David Benedictus. I read an extract on Sunday.  It doesn’t quite match the same tone and whimsiness of the A.A. Milne classical stories. It has the basic character traits right (which would be difficult to get wrong, since they’re so thoroughly outlined on websites.)

Favourite original quotes, which I got from here:

“It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn’t use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like ‘What about lunch?’ ”
Winnie the Pooh

“Just because an animal is large, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t want kindness; however big Tigger seems to be, remember that he wants as much kindness as Roo.”
Winnie the Pooh

“If you live to be 100, I hope I live to be 100 minus 1 day, so I never have to live without you.”
Winnie the Pooh

It’s about the return of Christopher Robin (the real one died in 1995). I will definitely get it. Am struggling to get through Tony Abbott’s Battlelines at the moment. A bit yawnful.

A copyright-free pic by Spictacular. Tigger, Kanga, Edward Bear (Winnie-the-Pooh), Eeyore, and Piglet.

A copyright-free pic by Spictacular. Tigger, Kanga, Edward Bear (Winnie-the-Pooh), Eeyore, and Piglet.

Brigid Delaney’s This Restless Life book launch

It was packed out. $10 each at Gleebooks and Annabel Crabb did a great interviewing job. Brigid chatted about how the high-fliers with top jobs but on short-term contracts are portrayed in the media as having everything but really feel unhappy and anguished.

Got my book signed and chatted to an SMH reporter in the line next to me about a front page story the reporter had written recently. There was a bit of aggro from the lady behind us cos someone had pushed in and was having a lengthy conversation with Brigid – but had not bought a book to be signed! “Hey lady, are you getting a book signed or what?” the aggro person asked.

Several SMH people there supporting Brigid. She thanked me for giving it a kindly mention on Facebook.

The Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger

Finished it last night. So depressing*. I hadn’t read anything about it before except knew John Hinckley and Mark Chapman were fans. My summary written at 3am: “Am amazing study of someone who feels crap all the time.”

While checking how to spell Hinckley, I just found this post that says serial killers have great taste in literature. Dunno if I’ll read Stranger in a Strange Land.

I didn’t realise Holden had ended up in an institution at the end – I just thought they had a psychoanalyst at his next school. And that he just “got sick” as a temporary thing. A bit disappointing.

Fave bits:

“Boy, I really fouled that up. I should’ve at least made it for cocktails or something.”

“People always clap for the wrong things. If I were a piano player, I’d play it in the goddam closet.” [NB:  subjunctive.]

“And you could tell his date wasn’t even interested in the goddam game, but she was even funnier-looking than he was, so I guess she had to listen. Real ugly girls have it tough. I feel so sorry for them sometimes.”

“Which always kills me. I’m always saying ‘Glad to’ve met you’ to somebody I’m not at all glad I met. If you want to stay alive, you have to say that stuff, though.”

“If you think I was dying to see him again, you’re crazy.”

“Newsreels. Christ Almighty. There’s always a dumb horse race, and some dame breaking a bottle over a ship, and some chimpanzee riding a goddam bicycle with pants on.”

“You take somebody that cries their goddam eyes out over phony stuff in the movies, and nine times out of ten they’re mean bastards at heart. I’m not kidding.”

“… I’d meet this beautiful girl that was also a deaf-mute and we’d get married. She’d come to live in my cabin with me, and if she wanted to say anything to me, she’d have to write it on a goddam piece of paper, like everybody else.”

“I know more damn perverts, at schools and all, than anybody you ever met, and they’re always being perverty when I’m around.” 😉

*Not as depressing as The Game by Neil Strauss, though it’s a great read.

Breath – Tim Winton

Finished reading it today. It’s about a bloke trying to feel extraordinary and special and hanging out with the cool crowd and a cool chick but ultimately being thrown back as being too “ordinary”. And his guilty boredom with the dull people who do love him.

Years later, he regroups and sees himself as a decent bloke who’s loveable, but others see him as just “creepy”. So he has to suck it up and settle for whatever scraps of excitement and beauty he can find. It’s bittersweet but in an uplifting way.

There are autoerotic asphyxiation scenes too. But don’t try that, it’s too dangerous!

Very enjoyable, especially if you love Australian beaches or the ocean.