Busytown by Jolisa Gracewood

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Busytown: Holiday reading lust

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  • Craig Ranapia,

    Phew, So It's Not Just Me Discovering, in the Listener's Best Books issue, that C.K. Stead doesn't keep a list of what he's read, either. Do you? I feels as though I should.

    I do, but to be perfectly honest it's more to minimise those "OMFG, I've read this and it's not improved on re-acquaintance" library moments. No treasure trove of witty marginalia for my heirs, I'm afraid...

    Speaking of which, see also this tasty morsel by Hilary Mantel, which visits Cinderella twenty years down the track, to see exactly how she's getting on ever after.

    May I recommend for your attention, Bill Willingham's sublime comic book Fables -- where, among much else, Cinderella is the third (ex-)wife of Prince Charming, who is nothing of the kind. :)

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11614 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    And then we check in with them annually thereafter -- sometimes alone, sometimes together -- every year, for twenty years, on the same date, July 15.

    Isn't that the plot of an Alan Alda film?

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3582 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa,

    Zomg, Danielle, you are right! Awesome librarian cross-referencing skills there.

    On the other hand, the couple in this book don't start out adulterously, just youthfully, and they don't actually meet every year. The more poignant chapters are the ones where they don't actually cross paths.

    A similar device is used in Vessels of the Heart by French author Benoîte Groult, about a cute Parisian intellectual gal and a gruff, horny-handed Breton fisherman hunk. Great book, made into a cheesy film called Salt on our Skin starring Greta Scacchi, former gf of Tim Finn-phew-I-made-a-local-connection. (Feeling bad that there is not a single NZ book on my list).

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1408 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    Thanks for the hat tip Jolisa. I wear hats, as it happens, so I'll tip mine right back at you for invigorating my love of books.

    Can anyone comment on Eoin Colfer's And Another Thing,* the sixth in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy trilogy?

    I have the radio script of the original book from 20 or so years ago, and wandered around, like other geeks, quoting from it, so forgive me if I'm a bit precious about it.

    Arthur looked up. "Ford!" he said, "there's an infinite number of monkeys outside who want to talk to us about this script for Hamlet they've worked out."

    I'm quite a fan of Eoin Colfer, and have enjoyed his Artemis Fowl series almost as much as my 7 year old daughter. Also The Airman was a decent read, but is he up to this?

    *Spoiler Alert!!! Damn, it caught me out.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa,

    Ulp... I read one chapter and took it back to the library. I felt like Simon Cowell dissing someone for a karaoke-style rendering of some classic song. No disrespect to Colfer, it's a valiant effort and others might enjoy it, but Douglas Adams is the real thing.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1408 posts Report Reply

  • Ngaire BookieMonster,

    Oh my! That's me! I'm flattered and, um, ever so slightly stunned too!! I'm going to stop now before my exclamation point use descends into Pterry "underpants on head" territory, but needless to say - wow, thanks!

    I don't keep lists of what I read either, though now, through my blog, I have a (sort of) record. This year for the very first time I experienced a "This is all very familiar. I think I've read this? Have I read this?" moment when starting a book. 3 pages in I realised I had indeed read it and had no desire to read it again. It was a bit like discovering your first grey hair.

    Thanks for the link to that Sam Anderson article, that was an interesting read - funnily enough I have read Oscar Wao and I didn't think of it as short at all, which I guess is partly the article's point. I think though that it is one of those things that inspires a "locational" response - the Americans loved it and, like Anderson, think of it as wildly, amazingly innovative. I could see why it's talked of that way, but felt that my response was muted by not being in, or having a living experience of, that sort of urban/American/Hispanic hybrid society. It wasn't that the cultural references passed me by (though I'm sure plenty did), it was more a lack of resonance. (So you should read it, is what I'm trying to say.)

    Also, my reading of books is more about getting away from the "34 nested browser tabs" then emulating that experience.

    And, BTW, I've just started The Little Stranger - it has been a bit of a slow start, so will let you know how it goes...I'm pretty hopeful though, Waters has previously been a pretty safe bet with me. This has been a bit of year for disappointed high hopes though, so we shall see.

    At the foot of Mt Te Aroh… • Since Nov 2009 • 173 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    No disrespect to Colfer, it's a valiant effort and others might enjoy it, but Douglas Adams is the real thing.

    That's what I was afraid of.

    The Christopher Tolkien edited The Children of Húrin had enough of JRRT's voice, and writing, to make it mostly worthy, IMhO. Particularly the bleak desperation of the characters on the road to rack and ruin. But this is not an unfinished symphony, and from what you and Lev Grossman have said, more an *unfurnished cacophony. Still, suppose I should judge for myself. See if I get past chapter one.

    *unfettered redacted

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    I got my Amazon parcel yesterday, full of nerdy goodness, and in the spirit of reading lust I must report having devoured Nina Power's One Dimensional Woman right out the box. It's about feminism and consumer culture, so it may stretch somebody's definition of holiday reading, but I found it oh so exciting.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7315 posts Report Reply

  • Ngaire BookieMonster,

    Oh, and I just read up on Manic Pixie Dream Girls and LOLzed. I had no idea they'd been given a title, but I couldn't agree more.

    It's that character I wished I was and also found intensely irritating.

    At the foot of Mt Te Aroh… • Since Nov 2009 • 173 posts Report Reply

  • Amy Gale,

    Wait, giving your chocolate away in the face of an oncoming snowstorm equals prescience how?

    I did need this post, having previously had NOTHING inspiring on my to-read list. Except Vana Manasiadis' new book, and even that is going to be delayed by importing issues (in other words: I need to get my mum to send it to me).

    Meanwhile I skulk around the house, noting that our book collection seems to break down into 85% ones I've read a zillion times and 15% ones I refuse to read ever ever ever. I don't think a list would be necessary in order to tell the difference. Better would be a list of books I've given people. Books you've read are just a bit of extra weight on the way to/from the library. Duplicate gifts make one feel a bit stoopid.

    tha Ith • Since May 2007 • 450 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    No disrespect to Colfer, it's a valiant effort and others might enjoy it, but Douglas Adams is the real thing.

    Meh... got to say I enjoyed it a damn sight more than So Long, And Thanks for All The Fish or Mostly Harmless -- which were mostly shit and had the awful stench of contractual obligation (and pending legal action to recover the long-ago spent advance) about them.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11614 posts Report Reply

  • philipmatthews,

    While we're talking books, can I plug a mail order bookstore in the UK called The Book Depository? Unlike Amazon, they offer free worldwide delivery. It also helps that the pound is looking pretty rooted -- I believe that's the technical term -- against the Kiwi dollar. Website is bookdepository.co.uk. I've found them fast and reliable.

    Books of the year? We talked about Geoff Dyer's Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi at another, more notorious thread, but he's been my discovery of the year: funny, erudite and coming to the Wellington arts festival next year (I'm not getting paid to say these things). I also liked Mark Fisher's Capitalist Realism which I probably couldn't summarise as well as Giovanni Tiso could. That was through Zero Books and I have a couple more of theirs coming from the Book Depository: Dominic Fox's Cold World, which is subtitled "The aesthetics of dejection and the politics of militant dysphoria", and the Fisher-edited The Resistible Demise of Michael Jackson.

    The Zero Books website is here: http://0books.blogspot.com/

    But my holiday reading looks like being a lot of stuff for work in the new year, too: the new Martin Amis (apparently he's sorting feminists out this time; I realise I haven't read a new Amis since the reviews collection back in about 2001), the new Jonathan Lethem, Chronic City, which I'm excited about it and the last two from Richard Dawkins.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2007 • 638 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    I also liked Mark Fisher's Capitalist Realism which I probably couldn't summarise as well as Giovanni Tiso could.

    Hah! :-) It's sitting in front of me, it came out of the same box mentioned above, I just had to read One Dimensional Woman first. Also from Zero one must mention Militant Modernism by the great Owen Hatherley.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7315 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    My summer reading 'plans' consist of the aforementioned The Children’s Book, and this baby, which I damn well will get my hands on, and then possibly lick in a degrading fangrrl orgy of hero-worship.

    Seconding Philip's recommendation of the Book Depository, too.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4285 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa,

    Wait, giving your chocolate away in the face of an oncoming snowstorm equals prescience how?

    Amy, you don't imagine that was my only chocolate. Plus, I had to prime the librarians in case I required a house call later on.

    So what are the books that you've read a zillion times? I have a few of those too, including everything by Dorothy L. Sayers, and my favouritest under-sung book ever, The Absence of a Cello by Ira Wallach.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1408 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart,

    On the one hand I strive to introduce more literary fruit and veg into his starchy white-bread book diet - tips appreciated

    Not *exactly* what you're asking for, but if the eight-year-old likes Hardy Boys, may I suggest the Adventure books, by Willard Price? They're horrifically un-PC, especially when it comes to anyone who's not an upstanding white male like the heroes of the piece, but I loved them to bits when I was his age, and they still can't be beaten for random natural history facts.

    Amherst, MA • Since Nov 2006 • 2087 posts Report Reply

  • Amy Gale,

    may I suggest the Adventure books, by Willard Price?

    OMG yes!

    Man, I couldn't wait to be 15 so I could travel the world catching animals. In some ways the comedown from this was even worse than when I didn't get my flying car in the year 2000.

    Also: Three Investigators. Mmmm, tasty tasty white bread.

    tha Ith • Since May 2007 • 450 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    and this baby, which I damn well will get my hands on, and then possibly lick in a degrading fangrrl orgy of hero-worship.

    Oh, you're going to do more than that. :) Really insightful -- even if Davies spends way too much time bitching about how blocked his is, I can sympathise with someone who never approaches a deadline at anything less than warp speed.

    So what are the books that you've read a zillion times?

    Hum... I've been re-reading all of Jane Austen every year for the last fifteen; Anthony Powell's Dance to The Music of Time; Gone With The Wind; used to bee able to recite The Hitch-Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy by heart; Dune; and Salem's Lot. God, I feel as if my brow isn't so much low as dragging on the floor, slapping against my knuckles...

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11614 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    I, too, love getting those boxes from Amazon (though might try the Book Depository now, thanks Philip). The lowness of the $NZ for the last year has meant I hadn't had any for a long time.

    But my recently arrived treats are 'Autism and the Myth of the Person Alone' by the controversial Doug Biklen (many psychologists hate his work on facilitated communication), 'Autism and representation' with chapters by my favourite social constructionists, and 'The ethics of Autism'.

    Probably not top of most people's reading lists, however.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 1901 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    Craig, I re-read the entire Anne of Green Gables series (up to and including Rilla of Ingleside, which is really beyond the pale) with monotonous regularity. I think you win.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3582 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Hosking,

    Well, now that I - and everyone else here - has read about the Manic Pixie Dream Girl I don't have to make a contribution to the 'Love' thread, 'cos its all there, pretty much.

    Whew.

    I must get hold of David Nicholls' latest, ta for the tip. I loved Starter for Ten and not just because I, too, am an alumini of the NZ Uni Challenge.

    Oh, and yeah, the Douglas Adams 'sequel' I read about that on the weekend and just went No.......

    Some concepts are fundamentally flawed at the outset and this just has got Tandoori Pizza written all over it.

    South Roseneath • Since Nov 2006 • 798 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart,

    So what are the books that you've read a zillion times?

    Everything I own, basically, because my criterion for buying books tends to be "how many times will I re-read it?" rather than anything else. Books I just want to try I'll get out of the library.

    What I'm re-reading right now for the zillionth time, though, is Jostein Gaardner's The Christmas Mystery - the proper way, one day of December at a time. The really religious bits bother me a little more now than they did at sixteen, when I first read it - but it's such a lovely way to tell the myth of Christmas that they mostly flow over me.

    Amherst, MA • Since Nov 2006 • 2087 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    may I suggest the Adventure books, by Willard Price?
    Amy: OMG yes!
    Man, I couldn't wait to be 15 so I could travel the world catching animals.

    In which case, why not revisit Gerald Durrell ( My Family and Other Animals, Beasts in My Belfry, The Bafut Beagles, Three Singles to Adventure, A Zoo in My Luggage ...)?
    On second thoughts, 8 might be a little young ... but I started reading him at around 10 *shrug*.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 808 posts Report Reply

  • Aidan,

    If we're Billy Bragging then surely it's

    freedom's just another word for nothing left to sell

    Thanks for the reminder, I'd neglected to listen to William Bragg for some time. Genius lyrics from that man

    I hate this flat land, there's no cover
    for sons and fathers and brothers and lovers
    I can take the killing, I can take the slaughter
    But I don't talk to Sun reporters
    I never thought that I would be
    Fighting fascists in the Southern Sea
    I saw one today and in his hand
    Was a weapon that was made in Birmingham

    And when you found out what happened yesterday
    While you were away in this land of Cain
    We were upstairs in the bedroom
    Dancing disgusting
    And flushing our babies down the drain
    And the apple that don't want to get eaten
    Will still fall off the tree

    Canberra, Australia • Since Feb 2007 • 136 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    I've never kept a reading list...books I reread include those by Pterry, R. A. McAvoy, Gaelyn Gordon, (3 or 4 by each author every year) and a heap of scifi from the collection (2000+ and still growing. ) No order to it, just "hmm, I feel like some Riverworld tonight." Or, suddenly noticing a name on the general fiction shelves, and taking it down to reread a paticular bit, long or short just as the mood takes me.

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

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