Muse by Craig Ranapia

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Muse: Friday Fluff: Shelf Life

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  • Jackie Clark,

    1) I've just finished The Year We Left Home, by Jean Thompson. I've just started A Box Of Darkness - by Sally Ryder Brady.

    2)As a child, I fancied the idea of reading under the covers, but only really did it at boarding school after lights-out. And I have no recollection of what I read.

    3)Books make me cry all the time. Everything makes me cry all the time. I often finish a book, with tears in my eyes, and clutch it to my chest, and say "Beautiful!" The last one I did that with was Half a Life - by Darin Strauss

    4) 3 books for a year? Are you kidding me? Do box sets count as one book? Oh well, it will have to be the first three Harry Potter books then. Because once I've finished one, I have to read it again to even remember what happened. That will keep my gerbil memory going for a year.

    5) I would most definitely be giving one to Brian from the Tales of the City series. Like, not the early years of Brian, but the later years. Because Maryanne is such a little cow, and it would get me nearer to Anna Madrigal.

    6) My self help book would be very short because my best advice to myself, or anyone, is that the answers are within us.

    7) All students should study ARD Fairburn or Sam Hunt for exquisite evocative poetry that makes the heart sing. Armistead Maupin should also be required reading, because he writes ripping yarns that talk to our humanity. Plays, I haven't seen too many, so I'll give that one a miss.

    8) Parties in novels are tricky ones, so I'd stick with going to one thrown by Edmund White because it would be bound to be interesting, and fucked up.

    9)**Are you listening now?**

    10) I would love to play Anna Madrigal. I was born to be the magical, kindly landlady with a wonderful, painful secret, whose life everybody revolves around, and without whom they cannot do without.

    11) I wouldn't be giving books to lovers. That isn't what lovers are for. IMHO.

    12) There are no literary deal breakers for me. Oh hang on, maybe books extolling the virtues of Muldoon. I can't even begin to say how very repellent I found him.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3121 posts Report Reply

  • JacksonP,

    I'm soooo doing this. Just later, as I have to work. Damn, but it's going to be hard to concentrate now.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2011 • 2107 posts Report Reply

  • JacksonP,

    I’m surprised this hasn’t taken off. Too many political dicks on the dance-floor. Whoops. My bad.

    1) What are you reading at the moment
    The Tiger’s Wife right now. Just finished Thomas Keneally’s The People’s Train.

    2) As a child, what did you read under the covers?
    To kill a mocking bird.

    3) Has a book ever made you cry, and if so which one?
    Yes. The Hour I first Believed by Wally Lamb, among others.

    4) You are about to be put into solitary confinement for a year and allowed to take three books. What would you choose?
    Iain Banks Surface Detail for total escapism. Sartre Nausea for penance (I presume I did something wrong). The Secret History Donna Tart.

    5) Which literary character would you most like to sleep with?
    How dare you ask such a question! (Cough) Tess. This may have something to do with Nastassja Kinski, but I couldn’t possibly comment.

    6) If you could write a self-help book, what would you call it?
    Help!

    7) Which book, which play, and which poem would you make compulsory reading in high school English classes?
    Book, Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey.
    Play, Waiting for Godot (boring I know).
    Poem. e e cummings Since feeling is first.

    8) Which party from literature would you most like to have attended?
    I had to do some research.
    “In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars.” So The Great Gatsby it is.

    9) What would you title your memoirs?
    Almost Cool.

    10) If you were an actor, which literary character do you dream of playing?
    Fairweather in Season of the Jew.

    11) What book would you give to a lover?
    Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro.

    12) Spying Mein Kampf or Dan Brown on someone’s bookshelf can spell havoc for a friendship. What’s your literary deal breaker?
    None. If you haven’t read Ayn Rand, how can you have a constructive argument about her?

    Auckland • Since Mar 2011 • 2107 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __,

    Dammit, this takes some thought! Perhaps in the morning.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3411 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to JacksonP,

    I’m surprised this hasn’t taken off. Too many political dicks on the dance-floor. Whoops. My bad.

    Yes it is. :) Only one more week, m'dear. And I like to think of this more as a slow-burner - like most of my cooking. (Thank you very much. You've been a wonderful audience. I'll be here all week.)

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11783 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    It does take an extraordinary amount of focus. Especially when, like me, you read far too much, far too quickly, and don't consciously remember most of what you read. It's a wonderful exercise!

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3121 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __,

    1) What are you reading at the moment?
    Juliet, naked by Nick Hornby. Just finished Embassytown by China Mieville. You all gotta read Embassytown! It’s like Ursula le Guin, but also technically inventive and poetic.

    2) As a child, what did you read under the covers?
    I don’t think I ever did…I just waited a while and turned the light back on…Mum went to bed early.

    3) Has a book ever made you cry, and if so which one?
    I always cry over books. Isn’t that normal??

    4) You are about to be put into solitary confinement for a year and allowed to take three books. What would you choose?
    All poetry I think: Cave Birds by Ted Hughes, Collected Poems of e. e. cummings, and maybe some Tennyson.

    5) Which literary character would you most like to sleep with?
    Preston, in Terry Pratchett’s I Shall Wear Midnight.

    6) If you could write a self-help book, what would you call it?
    A Little Help From My Friends [clearly, there must be a Beatles reference]

    7) Which book, which play, and which poem would you make compulsory reading in high school English classes?
    Book, Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.
    Play, The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde.
    Poem, The Knight by Ted Hughes.

    8) Which party from literature would you most like to have attended?
    The storytelling party in The Decameron. Or, Bilbo’s eleventy-first birthday.

    9) What would you title your memoirs?
    Surely I’m Too Young For This?

    10) If you were an actor, which literary character do you dream of playing?
    Portia in The Merchant of Venice.

    11) What book would you give to a lover?
    Jackie makes a good point. But reading aloud to each other is also a lovely thing! I’d give a lover as many of my favourite books as he’d agree to read.

    12) Spying Mein Kampf or Dan Brown on someone’s bookshelf can spell havoc for a friendship. What’s your literary deal breaker?
    A deal breaker for me is no books! There are people who don’t have ’em.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3411 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Lilith __,

    Dammit, this takes some thought! Perhaps in the morning.

    It totally does. I only haven't done it yet because I'm too busy over-thinking it.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4328 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    Might have to keep this thread going for a few weeks, so we can think about it over Christmas. At the moment I only have time to enjoy the anticipation of summer reading.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 2008 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Hosking,

    Oh man, I love this sort of time-wasting bollocks.


    1) What are you reading at the moment?

    Just finishing Julian Barnes' Pulse, and marvelling at the guy's writing: this a very personal thing, but you know how you can start reading someone and something just goes 'click' in the brain? Anyway, this is what happens with me and most of Barnes' writing, especially his short story collections. Also re-reading a collection of H L Mencken's collected political essays A Carnival of Buncombe, something which has perhaps made some of my columns more dispeptic this campaign (not that it needed a lot of help). Also part way through This Time Its Different, which is a magnificent history of financial crises. It is very good if you're into this sort of thing and personally I am.

    2) As a child, what did you read under the covers?

    Lots, but I especially remember being caught reading those WWII classics like Wings Day, The Sky Suspended, etc.


    3) Has a book ever made you cry, and if so which one?

    No fiction that I can remember, quite a bit of non-fiction.

    4) You are about to be put into solitary confinement for a year and allowed to take three books. What would you choose?

    The Bible, Collected Works of Shakespeare, and one of the 20-odd books from the bedside cupboard 'To read' pile.


    5) Which literary character would you most like to sleep with?

    Adora Belle Dearheart from Pratchett's Going Postal. Sharply intelligent, sarcastic, simmering with rage and reminding me uncannily of a number of exes.

    6) If you could write a self-help book, what would you call it?

    For God's Sake Go For A Walk In The Fresh Air Or Something.

    7) Which book, which play, and which poem would you make compulsory reading in high school English classes?

    Book: Ending Up by Kingsley Amis. Brilliantly structured, a magnificent example of Amis's ability to use the way people speak to reveal character, and fiendishly, blackly funny.

    Play: Troilus and Cressida by Shakespeare. Give 'em a 'problem play' for once, instead of the usual tragedies; introduce teenagers to a bit of cynicism about love; and, for good measure (hah!) include an introduction to some sound political philosophy by spending a week or two on Ulysses' speech on degree.

    Poem: Mrs Icarus by Carol Ann Duffy. Was still breaking out into giggles hours after I first read it.

    8) Which party from literature would you most like to have attended?

    Probably something from Gargantua and Pantagruel but only if I could still go home early.

    9) What would you title your memoirs?

    No, I Tell A Lie, It Was The Tuesday has already been taken, sadly.


    10) If you were an actor, which literary character do you dream of playing?

    Jude the Obscure.

    11) What book would you give to a lover?

    This is hypothetical since I'm happily hitched... but Ex Libris by Anne Friedman would be perfect, since it is all about merging book collections with her partner.


    12) Spying Mein Kampf or Dan Brown on someone’s bookshelf can spell havoc for a friendship. What’s your literary deal breaker?


    No 'deal breaker' as such...its about balance, isn't it? Someone might have the odd Dan Brown or whatever - we're all entitled, I feel, to the odd night of junk food, metaphorically and literally. (snarf) So long as its more than balanced out by more substantial fare.

    In fact, what I'd be looking for is a lack of narrowness. To me, what makes someone interesting is an element of heterodoxy, a bit of a mix and mingle approach to looking at life, and at least a hint of a set of opinions which aren't just something off the peg.

    A bookshelf dominated by Dan Brown would make me recoil, but so would a bookshelf dominated by political or literary theory. Or a set of shelves, perhaps.

    South Roseneath • Since Nov 2006 • 802 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    1) What are you reading at the moment?

    I’ve just finished Jim Butcher’s Dead Beat, and just started Murakami’s The Wind Up Bird Chronicles. Rob’s above comment about variety has my full support.

    2) As a child, what did you read under the covers?

    Nothing, I was never told to stop reading and go to sleep. If I had, it would have been the collected works of Diana Wynne Jones.

    3) Has a book ever made you cry, and if so which one?

    All the time. Particularly this last year I prefer books that make me laugh. But one of my all-time favourite books is A.S. Byatt’s Possession, which makes me weep like a 16 year old emo chick.

    4) You are about to be put into solitary confinement for a year and allowed to take three books. What would you choose?

    Pride and Prejudice, because of its immense re-readability. The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, to keep my spirits up. Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Dart. Because of Reasons that will be obvious if you’ve read it.

    5) Which literary character would you most like to sleep with?

    I’m on a roll here, so we’ll go with Melisande Shahrizai from the Kushiel books. Beautiful, clever, cruel, and far more morally complex than she at first seems.

    6) If you could write a self-help book, what would you call it?

    Just Stop It. Now.

    7) Which book, which play, and which poem would you make compulsory reading in high school English classes?

    Guardian of the Dead is too good a suggestion not to steal. Lady Windemere’s Fan, because you can discuss social issues while laughing. This Be the Verse, Philip Larkin. This is a world, remember, where I can set texts for teenagers.

    8) Which party from literature would you most like to have attended?

    I’m tempted to say ‘the Box Hill picnic’, in a probably futile attempt to stop it being so awful. I think we all know I’m prevaricating.

    9) What would you title your memoirs?

    Mingers I Have Known, Munters I Have Slept With: Turns Out I Can Keep a Fucking Secret After All.

    10) If you were an actor, which literary character do you dream of playing?

    Elizabeth Bennet. The vivacity, the lip, the fucking shit up and owning it.

    11) What book would you give to a lover?

    I think books are for lovers, and vice versa. Reading is a passion not entirely divorced from the physical. Were I to take a lover now, who didn’t know me very well… probably the above-frequently-mentioned Kushiel’s Dart, because they would need to be able to understand that head-space to some degree. And its reception might also be an indication of the presence of tiresome genre-snobbery.

    12) Spying Mein Kampf or Dan Brown on someone’s bookshelf can spell havoc for a friendship. What’s your literary deal breaker?

    We’re all being so fucking arch about this. But yeah, variety. I can forgive about anything on a bookshelf if it’s accompanied by a wide range of other stuff. But if it’s all Ayn Rand and Andrea Dworkin I’m probably going to discreetly slip away at some point. Though I probably never would have got up there to start with.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4328 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    What am I reading now?

    “The Debt to Pleasure” by John Lanchester, a signed first edition of which I bought
    from the Oamaru recycle centre for $2-

    As a child, what book/s did I read ‘under the covers?

    This only happened at the Moeraki cribs – because there were others trying to get to sleep.
    So – whatever I was interested/engaged with at the time, I read under the bedding. With a lighted candle. In a wooden crib.

    3: Has a book ever made you cry?

    Nope. But I came pretty close to it at the ending of 2 Burnford books – “The Incredible Journey” and “Bel Ria – Dog of War.”
    And I dont even own a dog!

    4 -solitary confinement for a year & 3 books – o, you do so mean titles dont you?

    *The Encyclopaedia Britannica
    *The Oxgrave (Oxford-Palgrave edition of English Poetry)
    * Ka Mahi o Ka Tipuna” (George Gray)

    5 Which lit. character would I most like to sleep with?

    Kaa, the python from the “Jungle Books”. Instant bodyguard, fast & very big. Enough with the penile anaolgies already-

    6: I’d NEVER write a selfhelp book but

    “Go Google It”

    Which book/play/poem would I make compulsory for secondary school English classes?

    I HATE HATE HATE compulsion in reading!

    But – I’d suggest “Lord Of The Flies”, Hone’s collection “No Ordinary Sun”, and the film version of “Lord Of The Flies” – just to show why you cant really transpose from one medium to another.

    Which party from lit -
    O, that’s so easy!
    “Babette’s Feast” (based on a story by Isak Dinnesen but I’d go with the depictions from the filmed version)
    -and if that wasnt a goer,
    ’Trimalchio’s feast’ from the Satyricon-

    it’s the FOOD I’m interested in, not the folk attending!

    9 – memoir title?
    I will never write ’em but – “Nothing To See Here, Move Along Thank You.”

    If you were an actor, which lit. character would I dream of playing?
    Maui. So various, so dangerous, so powerful – and so not me! (Hey, mythology counts as lit, right?)

    (11) Book to give to a lover?

    After looking up “asexual” (Wikipedia is good) you will understand why I dont feel compelled to answer this.

    __12 – Literary dealbreaker for a friendship?

    Well, people have already mentioned no books (gah!) or a variety of books (yes!)
    but, while I dont mind concentrations of books (a visitor would notice my extreme interest in food/cooking – or Maoritaka – or scifi/fantasy – or NZ lit -or natural history – or fishing – or world-ranging poetry – or art-or local histories- or geology- or conservation?) – I suppose bookshelves that have none of the foregoing? Means we wouldnt have a lot to talk about?

    Cheers – & thanks to Craig for the idea!

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

  • JacksonP, in reply to Emma Hart,

    Murakami’s The Wind Up Bird Chronicles.

    No spoilers, but damn I love his work at the moment. Just got the three in one 1Q84. I'm stockpiling some sanity before reading it.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2011 • 2107 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    This lover/book thing is so interesting to me. The word "lover" possibly needs exploring as it obviously means different things to different people.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3121 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Jackie Clark,

    'loved one/s' would make a helluva lot more sense to me Jackie!

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

  • Jackie Clark, in reply to Islander,

    Oh yes.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3121 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Jackie Clark,

    The word "lover" possibly needs exploring as it obviously means different things to different people.

    I'm using it to mean "someone I'm having an ongoing sexual relationship with". Not neccesarily someone I want to mawwy and have bubbsies with, but more than a one-night stand.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4328 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Emma Hart,

    Yup.
    That's what I took the useage to mean.
    However - what books would you really like your family/beloved others to read - is a-erm- whole different ballgame? And one that could be usefully explored?

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

  • Jackie Clark, in reply to Emma Hart,

    That would be how I define it, I guess. But no books. Just sex.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3121 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Jackie Clark,

    no books. Just sex.

    I can't feel sexy about someone I don't connect with in other ways, that's just how I am. And sharing books can be an awesome connection.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3411 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Jackie Clark,

    The word "lover" possibly needs exploring as it obviously means different things to different people.

    not a word I've ever heard any confusion over

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16277 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Sacha,

    not a word I’ve ever heard any confusion over

    lol. Well except for book-lovers?

    ETA: I've recently discovered the word "bibliophage", which I Iike very much.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3411 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Sacha,

    Srsly?
    I am a lover of potato cakes
    DOES not equal – I make love to potato(legally able of age non-disadvantaged) cakes-

    get real mate-

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

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Islander,

    However – what books would you really like your family/beloved others to read – is a-erm- whole different ballgame? And one that could be usefully explored?

    Interestingly, for me it's a question with a completely different answer. A book for a loved one would be something I would think they would enjoy - it'd be all about them. So the answer would be completely different for every person.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4328 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Islander,

    However – what books would you really like your family/beloved others to read – is a-erm- whole different ballgame? And one that could be usefully explored?

    I think you could guess there would be complete sets of Austen in every home (and a test) if I ruled the world. :) But it’s an interesting question to mull over as Christmas approaches – books are the only thing I buy with any confidence whatsoever, and that’s not much. I’m a big believer in the idea that the right book at the right time, can be (to coin a cliche) a game-changer. The other side of that is that even my beloved Jane can fall on fallow ground. When I first read P&P as a callow yoof, I didn’t have the literary or emotional software to understand it was a lot more than highbrow Mills & Boon.

    You also have to watch gift-giving narcissism - or "buying presents for YOU". Now that really is grounds for a social death sentence. :)

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11783 posts Report Reply

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