Holiday reading

Judith Ridge Judith.Ridge at det.nsw.edu.au
Sun Jan 16 23:59:19 EST 2005


Hi everyone,

I'm back from a week's holiday about which least said the better... Family
duty rather than personal pleasure, shall we say. *sigh* Oh well, I got a
bit of a tan and some books read. I have also rekindled my love of jigsaw
puzzles and am considering embarking upon the 1000 piece puzzle of Jackson
Pollack's Blue Poles which I bought at the Australian National Gallery over
ten years ago (the puzzle, not the painting!) and have never done. However,
I imagine embarking on it will make me feel a bit like Captain Oates; I May
Be Some Time...

Books! Polished off Ruth Rendell's _Thirteen Steps Down_ in a couple of
sittings. Golly she imagines some sick puppies.

Confession: and I realise this may get me kicked off the list (or at the
very least Sent to Coventry which actually becomes a fairly clever pun if
you can wait long enough for the payoff...). I started Louise McMaster
Bujold's _Cordelia's Honour_. I got a few chapters in and I thought; I don't
read this kind of book. I don't like this kind of book. I am not
particularly enjoying this book. (I don't even know what to call "this kind
of book". It's not strictly SF, is it. Oh well, I don't know what it is, but
I know when I don't like it...) It was almost exactly the same thought I had
after trying to watch the first few episodes of _The Sopranos_. I felt like
I ought to watch it because everyone (including my best friend) adored it
and said how brilliant it was and I am sure it is, but I thought; I don't
like mafia stories. I don't watch gangster movies. I am not going to watch
_The Sopranos_. And I didn't. I am sure LMB is a fine writer, but she's not
for me, so I abandoned _Cordelia's Honour_ in favour of Connie Willis' _To
Say Nothing of the Dog_, which I loved (despite getting a little lost in all
the pseudo-physics--or maybe it's real physics? How would I know!). (Anyone
spot the pun?)

So Cordelia has gone back on the shelf next to _Young Miles_ which I am sure
I will never read either. I am thinking about sending them to my nephew who
likes Garth Nix (as do I...). Next question: Am I likely to enjoy other
books of Willis' or are they vastly different from _Dog_?

My mother told me that Jerome K Jerome's _Three Men in a Boat_ was one of
her father's favourite books, and she has looked out his copy for me (I have
never read it). I love it when this happens; this grandfather died when I
was six weeks old but have discovered serendipitously over the years that we
have enjoyed the same books; _Vanity Fair_ was one of his favourites,
apparently. (In case anyone hasn't read _To Say Nothing of the Dog_, the
title comes from the Jerome novel's subtitle and there's a healthy bit of
intertextuality going on in Willis' novel.)

Interested to hear people discussing the McKinley fairy tale books; my
thesis topic (in case I haven't mentioned it before which I am sure I have
so I apologise for banging on about it) is YA fairy tale re-tellings and
McKinley's books will be part of it. Obviously. However, I am starting with
Donna Jo Napoli's books, and her novel _Bound_ was also a book I read while
away (hiding on the verandah away from bored and sunburnt 10 and 12 years
olds watching Bananas in Pyjamas because they didn't bring any books with
them to read... Aaaargh. Nice ocean views, but.). _Bound_ is a re-telling of
Yeh-Hsien, the Chinese 'Cinderella' tale from the I forget which
century/dynasty. Interesting what Napoli's done with it, connecting the
tradition of foot-binding into the shoe/slipper aspect of the story. It's a
slimmish volume, but once I started making notes about things to think about
in subsequent readings I realised how much she has packed into it.

Anyway, safely back at home in the bosom of my Bananas-free (but not
bananas-free) flat, I am reading Iain Banks' _Dead Air_. It's a fast read
and even a little dated, with its immediately post-September 11th world
view, and I am not enjoying it half as much as _The Crow Road_ or that one
about the reclusive rock star, but it's keeping me interested. I am finding
it fascinating to be agreeing with all the left-wing opinions of the rather
vile main character. Maybe that should be the other way around: the main
character is rather vile (actually, that's too strong a word for it, he's
not really vile, but he's not particularly likeable)  but I agree with much
of what he says on politics etc. I am planning to copy a quote about
political correctness (something to the effect of "what we used to call
'Being Polite'") into my email siggie. However, my home computer died within
three hours of me being home, alas, and I may remain Unplugged until after
the car registration is paid.

Ika, glad the book arrived and hope you and Jenny enjoy it. (For the
information of the list, Ika's gf is an old buddy of mine, thus the
seemingly random and generous sending of Christmas presents to DWJers.)

To everyone else, hope the new year is shaping up to be a happy one for you
all.

Judith   





Judith  Ridge
Editorial Staff
The School Magazine
PO Box 1928
Macquarie Centre
NSW 2113
AUSTRALIA
+61 2 9889 0044 (ph)
+61 2 9889 0040 (fax)


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