Saturday 18 January 2020

Stories & Shout Outs #27

My Week: didn't really go to plan.
  • The dishwasher died last Friday. 
  • Not a huge drama in the scheme of things, except we had visitors for the weekend, then midweek visitors as well. Everyone concerned revisited the lost art of washing up by hand with good grace, and Mr Books and myself even rediscovered how nice it can be to wash and wipe up side by side, chatting as we go.
  • On Monday B19 left for Canberra to return to his part-time job, and in a few more weeks, the start of his new university year. The usual bittersweet emotions accompanied me with this departure.
  • An hour before our midweek visitors arrived, I unexpectedly felt a drop of water on my head as I was sitting at the dining room table. I raced up the stairs, squelched through our sodden bedroom carpet to discover the hot water pipe under our ensuite vanity basin had burst. Hot water was gushing everywhere.
  • Amazingly a plumber turned up within the hour, my work place let me borrow their wet/dry vac and we introduced my young niece and nephew to the joys of a sushi train.
  • A professional carper cleaner/dryer turned up the following day with dehumidifiers and blowers. Mr Books & I have been camping out in B19's bedroom ever since.
  • Rain returned to Sydney on Thursday, along with thunder and lightning and a power surge that took out the air conditioner unit.
  • The rule of three says we should now be done!
  • Needless to say, all my chapter-a-day reads fell by the wayside this week. 
  • The good news is that thanks to the rain of the past two days, most of the bushfires are now out or completely under the control of the RFS, CFS and other agencies. The mop up begins. As does the political blame-game and buck-passing.
The end of Hat Hill Rd, Blackheath, NSW Dec 2019

What I'm Reading Right Now?
  • Moby-Dick | Herman Melville | #slowread
  • War and Peace | Leo Tolstoy | chapter-a-day
  • Bridge of Clay | Marcus Zusak | book group
  • In Love With George Eliot |  Kathy O'Shaughnessy | pure pleasure
  • Such a Fun Age | Kiley Reid | pleasure
  • Yellow Notebook: Diaries Vol 1 | Helen Garner | a dubious pleasure
  • The Cloud Spotters Guide | Gavin Pretor-Pinney | non-fiction comfort read after all the bush fires 
  • The Tempest | William Shakespeare | CC Spin

Should I Stay or Should I Go?
  • So, I'm reading The Bridge of Clay for my February book group meeting. 
    • I'm loving the language. On almost every page, there's a gorgeous turn of phrase, or a line that makes me stop and smile for the pure pleasure of it. At every turn, you can sense how important this book was to Zusak. 
    • Yet I'm struggling to feel invested in the story or the characters. The back story of the parents has been interesting, but I have to regularly remind myself to give BoC some of my spare reading time (and not just pick up one of the other books that I REALLY want to read).
    • I've made it to the 30% mark.
    • Sound I stay or should I go?
  • Yellow Notebook. Hmmmm. 
    • Like Garner, I wrote a journal for most of my twenties and thirties. It was a pretty angst filled journey as I worked out how to become an adult and live in the adult world. In amongst the emotional dross, were some interesting (most likely only to me) observations, commentary and personal milestones. 
    • During a major upheaval in my life in my late thirties, I decided it was time to jettison the numerous journals clogging up my life office. They were not only clogging up my physical space, but they also felt like an emotional burden I didn't want to have with me any longer. But before I tossed them, I decided to read them one last time, looking out for any interesting, important, significant sections. I then typed these snippets up over a period of about a year. I'm in no way suggesting that I am a writer of Garner's calibre or experience, but my snippets look and sound just like hers in the Yellow Notebook.
    • I completely understand how it's an interesting exercise for the individual to go through this process, but I'm not so convinced that it's such an interesting exercise for the reader.
    • I've ho-hummed my way to the 10% mark.
    • Should I stay or should I go?

New to the Pile:
  • The Year Without Summer | Guinevere Glasfurd
  • Coventry | Rachel Cusk
  • Murder in Midsummer | selected by Cecily Gayford
  • Nothing to See Here | Kevin Wilson
  • Hamnet | Maggie O'Farrell
  • Middle England | Jonathan Coe
  • The Water Dancer | Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • The Shadow King | Maaa Mengiste
  • Cherry Beach | Laura McPhee-Browne
  • The Night Watchman | Louise Erdrich
  • The Girl With the Louding Voice | Abi Dare
Yes, I know I have a problem!
I want to read ALL of the books right now.

On My Radar:
  • A Margaret Atwood Live event is happening in Sydney in February. Mr Books & I have booked our tickets. I can't wait.
  • The Little Women movie - Sunday - fingers crossed.

Shout Outs:
  • A timely reminder/discussion by Laurie @Relevant Obscurity of the pleasures of reading for pleasure, slow, thoughtful reading  and ditching reading goals.
  • Check out Bill @The Australian Legend's Gen 3 reading week to learn all you ever wanted to know about Australian Women Writers from 1919-1960.
  • January is the month when all the editors @Australian Women Writer's challenge offer up their year in review stats and thoughts, including yours truly for the non-fiction/poetry page.


  1. Wow, a week of household disasters! Burst pipes give me nightmares.

    I vote you jettison both of those books. They don't sound like they're bringing you much joy.

    1. I’m pretty sure the Garner is a goner, but I may still pick my way through the Zusak until book group night.

  2. Egads.You are more cheerful that I would be about a burst hot water tank. We had a water event in our house a few years back and it went on and on for months. We ended up having to replace the floor of the bathroom, get a new toilet, replace the ceiling of the ground floor, replace walls, and paint. It seemed endless.

    1. Yikes! That sounds like a ghastly time. Fortunately.for us, I guess, is that we’re renters, & now that both boys have moved out, we’re thinking of down-sizing if we can summon up the energy to go looking! And then pack! And unpack!! Ugh!!!

  3. I'm a firm believer in Rule of Three. Hope it works for you (wonder if it works for disastrous Liberal Prime Ministers. What if Morrison is third time lucky (for them)?) Thanks for the mention - there's still lot's more I want to know. To the extent that we're doing Gen 3 again next year.

    1. Glad to hear about the gen3 next gen 2021, as I still have plenty more options for this period.

  4. I have had similar weeks so I empathise greatly, though I think we’re are up to our third rule of threes in the last 12 months. The rain is remarkable, for the first time since November the fires have been extinguished in my area on the mid north coast, and we may even be able to drop down from Water Restriction level from 4 to 3, when just a week ago they were considering raising it to 5.

    1. That has to be a huge relief - my family out west have been up to lvl 3&4 too. So even though Sydney only has lvl 2 we’ve been showering with a bucket to collect the water for our garden & pots for months now in sympathy/preparation. Hope you get more steady rain.

  5. NL: partly cloudy, no rain,no fires! 2 books in question...don't quit, just skim. New to pile: not one book I've heard of. My movie night: start season 3 The Crown
    My reading now? The Irish Writer and the world (Declan Kiberd)...pretty good!

    1. I'm not sure the Garner will stay on Nancy. I love her non-fiction, but not so much her fiction writing.
      Looking forward to seeing the next season of The crown when it comes to Australia too.

    2. Some authores should stick to what they are good at!
      Garner - non-fiction, true crime
      Astely's collection of short stories was a fiasco!
      A short story is a complete other animal...needs a special talent! (Updike, Trevor, Carver, Munro, Lorrie Moore, Adichie, Mansfield...)

  6. Everything seems to happen at once. Glad some of the fires have been put out. Hope more ran comes to Australia!

  7. I'm so sorry. What a week. I love your focus in positive things.
    We too will head out to watch Little Women soon.
    I like listening to you about quitting or not those titles. Good luck with your decision.
    Glad for the controlled fires, finally.

  8. Thank you Brona!

    And Yikes what a week. Good thing you were home, though, when the pipe burst!

  9. How interesting about the similarities you've noticed between your own notebooks and scribblings and Garner's...that alone would make me curious to see what's in store. But I can also see how, if you've had a bit of upset (to say the least), in and out of your four walls, that it might not be the kind of book to hold your attention just now. Garner isn't readily available here, but I could get her from a library in the north end of the city and every time I visit it, I long to just pull off all the books by her on the shelf and rush home with them!


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