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.

Brigid Delaney: This Restless Life

Am reading Brigid Delaney’s new book, This Restless Life. Chapter on Work is excellent. Details the downfalls of contracts/temping, which is what employers want. Crap if you want decent pay, superannuation, holiday pay and sick leave and ability to build a life.

She points out only the super-highly-paid truly benefit from temp contracts. The rest of us suffer.

“Most portfolio workers toil in the backwash of the restless economy. They talk about their work stretching to six or seven days a week …  they are isolated, their hours are unpredictable or antisocial, and they live with the unnerving prospect that a source of income could be cut off without warning. They are a species unprotected from the whims and changes of fortune of the labour market.”

“He is going to slip down a rung to where  I am, white-knuckled, still pyjama-clad in the afternoon, checking my bank account online with a measure of dread and fear.”

[I worked with Brigid at the SMH – occasionally subbing on MyCareer.]

Book reviews: Sun-Herald

Creating Magic
Lee Cockerell
(Random House, $32.95)
Cockerell worked at Disney for more than a decade, eventually as an executive vice-president of operations. Anyone who has visited a Disney theme park will be amazed at how they keep the level of service so high throughout a full day catering to so many families with young children, high expectations and usually in hot weather. He shares 10 strategies and all the secrets of how, despite having the usual stresses of outsourcing labour, job cuts and restructuring, employees can be trained and motivated to keep the Disney magic alive. Inspirational and comprehensive. CW

Dating Makes You Want To Die
Daniel Holloway and Dorothy Robinson
(HarperCollins, $24.99)
Aimed at the older person who has been suddenly plunged back into the dating scene, this book gives an update on the modern rules of dating, from personal makeovers to proposing, meeting the parents and staying together. It’s good if you feel trepidatious about dating and want an idea of where to set boundaries but overall I felt there were too many rules. If you’re that clueless, you’d be better off reading an etiquette guide. Also, the authors try to be humorous, but this involves derogatory jokes about obese people and an assumption that all single people are “pathetic, unloveable” losers. Boring. CW

Croc
Robert Reid
(Allen and Unwin, $26.95)
Danger, death and destruction are the gist of this book about lethal animals – human and otherwise. It’s divided into four sections: hunters, victims, lucky escapes and crazy capers. I turned straight to the victims section, which avoids repeating cases covered in similar books by focusing on incidents in north Queensland. I then skipped back to the section about croc hunters, which has amazing tales of Crocodile Dundee loners and adventurers being completely insane and taking their chances against large saltwater crocodiles. Definitely a book that will enhance any trip north or for those too scared to go. CW