I was tagged by Jo Case to answer this fulsome Book Q&A; Jo’s answers are here. I’m following Jo’s example: if you’d like to take part, consider yourself tagged. (And come back and leave a link to your quiz responses in the comments). Rules below.
What are you reading right now?
The Beloved by Annah Faulkner. This book won the 2011 Queensland Premier’s Literary Award for Emerging Writer and the 2013 Kibble award for women writing about life in Australia, and was short-listed for the 2013 Miles Franklin Award.
I’m only a few chapters in but already I’m taken by the beauty of the writing and the authenticity of the voice of the central character, young Roberta ‘Bertie’ Lightfoot. The setting of Papua New Guinea in the 1950s is fascinating, too.
I’m fortunate to be sharing a panel with Annah Faulkner at the Brisbane Writers Festival next month.
Do you have any idea what you’ll read when you’re done with that?
It’s all about preparation for Brisbane Writers Festival for me at the moment. Once I finish The Beloved, I’ve got a crime panel with Adrian McKinty and Stuart MacBride to prepare for. I’ll read MacBride’s Close to the Bone. Haven’t yet decided whether to read McKinty’s latest, I Hear the Sirens in the Street, or his first, The Cold, Cold Ground.
Once I can see my way clear to reading purely for pleasure again, Zero At The Bone, the new novel by David Whish-Wilson, is at the top of my pile.
What 5 books have you always wanted to read but haven’t got round to?
L. A. Confidential — James Ellroy
For Whom The Bell Tolls — Ernest Hemmingway
Remembering Babylon — David Malouf
The Member of the Wedding — Carson McCullers
The Jim Thompson Omnibus
What magazines do you have in your bathroom/lounge right now?
The Big Issue, The Trip (3RRR subscriber magazine), Empire and Vanity Fair (Hollywood issue).
What’s the worst book you’ve ever read?
Some ghastly Sidney Sheldon novel. I was backpacking in India and traded Midnight’s Children for it with another traveller. One of the best books I’ve ever read for one of the worst. Thus the world balances itself, I guess.
What book seemed really popular but you didn’t like?
I often read popular books that I don’t like, especially the stalk-and-slash/serial killer variety.
What’s the one book you always recommend to just about everyone?
Right now it’s The People Smuggler by Robin de Crespigny, a vital corrective to the mendacity underpinning Australia’s current asylum seeker policy.
What are your three favourite poems?
‘High Flight’ by John G Magee Jnr
‘The Sun Rising’ by John Donne
‘Jaberwocky’ by Lewis Carroll
Where do you usually get your books?
Where do you usually read your books?
Like Jo, I carry a book in my bag everywhere I go, sometimes two if there’s a chance I’ll finish one before I get home. My favourite place to read is in bed, or on the couch with a glass of wine; I especially enjoy it when the book I’m reading is so good, I can’t be bothered watching a DVD. I also read on public transport, at cafes, in queues, in lifts and occasionally while walking down the street.
When you were little, did you have any particular reading habits?
At the age of about 14 or 15, I hid a copy of Endless Love inside a maths text book so I could read it at my (Catholic) school sports carnival.
What’s the last thing you stayed up half the night reading because it was so good you couldn’t put it down?
Her Father’s Daughter by Alice Pung.
Have you ever ‘faked’ reading a book?
In my debut novel Behind the Night Bazaar, my PI character Jayne Keeney sings the praises of James Ellroy. She’s read a lot more of his work than I have.
The cover might make me pick a book up but it takes more than that for me to buy it. I mean, I love the cover to Jasmine Nights by S P Somtow (left), but it was ‘The J D Salinger of Siam’ quote that clinched it.
What was your favourite book when you were a child?
The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck by Beatrix Potter stands out as my first thriller. The tale of a naïve duck who accepts the offer of a sandy-whiskered gentleman to incubate her eggs in his feather filled wood-shed still gave me chills forty years on when I read it to my own daughter. Jemima Puddle-Duck introduced me the power of literature that unsettles, frightens, arouses, and introduced me to the perennial theme of inappropriate relationships.
What book changed your life?
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. This is the kind of book I aspire to write. In her author’s note to the novel, Kingsolver says, ‘I spent nearly thirty years waiting for the wisdom and maturity to write this book.’ As a writer, I’m greatly encouraged by this admission as I continue working on that requisite wisdom and maturity.
What is your favourite passage from a book?
A tough call, so I’m going with the first piece that springs to mind:
We die containing a richness of lovers and tribes, tastes we have swallowed, bodies we have plunged into and swum up as if rivers of wisdom, characters we have climbed into as if trees, fears we have hidden in as if caves.
I wish for all this to be marked on by body when I am dead. I believe in such cartography — to be marked by nature, not just to label ourselves on a map like the names of rich men and women on buildings. We are communal histories, communal books. We are not owned or monogamous in our taste or experience.
― Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient
Who are your top five favourite authors?
Barbara Kingsolver, Simone Lazaroo, Kate Atkinson, Christos Tsiolkas, Andrew Nette.
What book has no one heard about but should read?
Sustenance by Simone Lazaroo. Set at a hotel in Bali, the story unfolds over twenty-four hours, told from the point of view of Malacca-born Perpetua de Mello, her dissolute English father, a Balinese couple who work at the hotel, and a suite of guests — Australians plus a French family — who are brought together in violent circumstances.
While peppering the story with reflections on food, culture and religion, Sustenance is no Eat, Pray, Love — quite the opposite. The novel poses questions about how vulerable people damaged by the insensitivity of and exploitation by outsiders (not unlike Elizabeth Gilbert) can seek redress, and is all the more powerful for placing these questions in the context of broader reflections on grief and hope across all characters and cultures. It is also beautifully written.
What 3 books are you an “evangelist” for?
What are your favourite books by a first-time author?
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee; Brother of the More Famous Jack by Barbara Trapido; Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson; House of Spirits by Isabelle Allende; The World Waiting to be Made by Simone Lazaroo; A Beautiful Place to Die by Malla Nunn; Peepshow by Leigh Redhead; The Red Queen by Honey Brown.
What is your favourite classic book?
The completed collected works of Oscar Wilde.
Five other notable mentions?
The Song Is You by Megan Abbot
The Household Guide to Dying by Debra Adelaide
The Long Firm, Jake Arnott
Birds Without Wings, Louis de Bernières
The English Patient, Michael Ondaatje
1. Post these rules
2. Post a photo of your favourite book cover
3. Answer the questions above
4. Tag a few people to answer them too
5. Go to their blog/twitter and tell them you’ve tagged them
6. Make sure you tell the person who tagged you that you’ve taken part!