In 2009, when I started to write poetry seriously, i.e., confidently, ambitiously, I noticed a change in my reading patterns—more poetry, more than one book at a time. (When I was a kid I established a rule of two halves—finish a book before you start another; finish every book.) Around six months ago I was reading only poetry and felt unbalanced so I started to read prose again and found my attention span for longer forms had shortened. Re-enter Vikram Seth’s infamously long A Suitable Boy, which honed my concentration (though when I first read it, at Apollo Bay in […]
Archives for November 2016
I long to read only one book at a time, but this ambition seems somehow beyond me and rarely do I have fewer than four on the go. I experiment with limitations. For instance, feeling overwhelmed by the endless onslaught of new books and the debates around these, I recently decided I would read only books written by dead people. True academics excel at this, but I’m not one of these, and so the vow didn’t hold. I started off well though, if haphazardly: re-visiting Camus’ The Myth of Sisyphus and then Proust, when I found a gorgeous old American […]
It always rankles with me when I discover, via conversation or interview, local prose writers who don’t read contemporary poetry. On the other hand, the Australian poets I encounter tend to read omnivorously and to keep up with other forms of their moment, not least other written forms.
After a string of books that didn’t excite me or make me want to press them into the hands of friends—an unfortunate trend for someone whose livelihood depends on being enthusiastic about books—I was delighted to start Their Brilliant Careers by Ryan O’Neill a few weeks ago. Meanjin subscribers will recognise some of the stories from their first publication in past issues. This is a collection of short stories starring fictional figures in Australian literature—from an alcoholic editor who overzealously intervenes in his wife’s work to a communist organiser who disparages […]
This is an edited extract from Gularabulu: Stories from the West Kimberley by Paddy Roe, edited by Stephen Muecke, published November 2016 by UWA Publishing. Paddy Roe is celebrated as a storyteller in the great tradition of literature on the Australian continent, where each of the two hundred or so language families has its traditions of oral literature that go back many millennia. But what is generally recognised as ‘Australian literature’ is a recent branch of written English literature brought in by the colonists. So while Indigenous communities have maintained their ancient heritage in various types of song, performances, and […]