My two-and-a-half year old and I recently had a conversation that went as follows:
ME: You know, Mummy loves Tasha and Mummy loves Daddy. And Daddy loves Tasha and Daddy loves Mummy. What does Tasha love?
TASHA: Tasha loves books.
Not quite the response I was fishing for, but wonderful nonetheless.
We read to her from sunrise to sunset. She reads to herself, too. She can recite several books in the Hairy Maclary series by heart, her favourite character: “the roughest and toughest of cats / the boldest the bravest the fiercest of cats / wicked of eye and fiendish of paw / the mighty magnificent Scarface Claw.”
We’re all currently enjoying the works of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler such as The Gruffalo, Monkey Puzzle, and Charlie Cook’s Favourite Book. Makes a nice change from repeated readings of Maisy!
There’s something magical in watching a child fall in love with reading — a love to last a lifetime.
At the Crime & Justice Festival in Melbourne in July, I was on a panel with Lenny Bartulin, who talked about how much more easily his own prose flowed once he rediscovered his love of reading, in this case, via Raymond Chandler (and what’s not to love there!).
I’ve just finished Lenny’s debut novel, A Deadly Business, also pleasure to read. Witty, snappy, stylish. For example, “Old Man Time was a smart-arse. You wanted it slow, he gave it fast. You wanted it fast, he gave it slow. Today, Jack wanted it fast. So Monday dragged like it had rolled an ankle.” And: “Jack tried to read her face. Whatever was there was written in lemon juice.”
Although strictly speaking a second-hand book dealer rather than a detective, it was also refreshing to read a male character in this genre who cared so much about his appearance!
Also since the festival I’ve read Robert Gott‘s first William Power book, Good Murder. The pleasure I had in meeting Robert was matched by the kick I got out of reading his book. It was clever, evocative and profoundly funny. Set in small town Queensland in 1942, Power, as the blurb goes, “is an actor of dubious abilities matched only by his lack of skill as an amateur detective”. His character — and Gott’s writing — is exemplified in the following:
“When the Power Players arrived in Maryborough, the war was going badly. American soliders were everywhere down south and causing trouble. A man named Leonski had been charged with the brownout murders in Melbourne. He’d strangled three women and was going to hang. We all talked about it, and I thought the time was right to do a Grand Guignol piece of our own devising about the wickedness of human nature. The mass murderer would be a Eurasian with impeccable credentials. He wouldn’t be unmasked until the final scene when we learned that his mother was Japanese and his father was German. Noone in the troupe though it was a very good idea. Annie Hobson, who I thought might jump at the chance to play three different victims in the one piece, said it was a particularly lousy idea. I suspected she realised that it was outside her range.”
Glorious stuff! Even my partner Andrew, a very hard man to please when it comes to crime fiction, agreed that it was a wonderful read. And there are two more William Power novels in print to look forward to.
Two books in a month: that’s practically a record since my daughter was born.
Actually, I lie. If I count the number of books I’ve read to Tash (not counting those her father reads to her), it would be closer to 152 books that I’ve read in the last month.
We are a household of bibliophiles. But some of us get to read more than others.