Friday 29 June 2012

Fifty Shades of.... Green

There was a discussion in the office the other day – of the type that occur when budgets are tight and employees’ thoughts turn to redundancy – about great celebrity men. In truth, I was poking my nose into a female confab about marrying a rich guy to escape impending poverty. The usual names emerged: Pitt and Craig, Depp and Lautner. And Kermit. Oh yes, you read correctly – Kermit – as in the frog. You can imagine my concern – sharing an office, and oxygen, with someone who has designs on a Muppet. But it did get me thinking...

Kermit is already in a relationship. Long-term. And granted, it’s not always been the smoothest of affairs, but it’s a relationship all the same. And Kermit’s life partner is a woman of considerable passions. It’s a passionate relationship. A passionate relationship with a pig. Think about it for a moment gentle reader... a passionate relationship between a frog and a pig.
OK, it’s research time. The biology of this velvety Hollywood union. Google it. Wikipedia perhaps? I did. And I was horrified. Cross-matching the she-pig’s needs with the he-frog’s capacity to deliver. It’s a disaster. A nightmare. No wonder Miss Piggy seems to be upset so frequently. And how the relationship has lasted, I’ll never know. This unequal union. How long can it possibly continue?
Perhaps that’s why single ladies, like my colleague, still hold a candle for Kermit the Frog. She knows he’s really still up for grabs. She craves fifty shades of green. And now my task is clear. She has to know the truth. She must be set straight about the frog and his “limitations”.
Next week, I think we’ll need to talk...

Great sentence of the Week #1

"Petal Bear was crosshatched with longings, but not, after they were married, for Quoyle. Desire reversed to detestation like a rubber glove turned inside out." The Shipping News (Proulx)

Thursday 28 June 2012

Five books that changed me

There's a major Australian newspaper that runs this column weekly - featuring some famous or near-famous writer, commenting on the books that changed their lives, or influenced their writing.

I'm unlikely to ever score a column in that paper. And a few of you have asked who I read. So here goes...

1) In the Shadow of Man - Jane Goodall.
The first book I ever borrowed from a library as a kid. It has it all - sex, graphic violence, wild jungles and a pretty English girl. And it's all 100% true. A highlight of my life was meeting Jane Goodall in 2011 - and having her sign my copy of this wonderful book.

2) A Bright Shining Lie - Neil Sheehan
Pulitzer Prize winning expose on the history, politics and personalities of the Vietnam War. A challenging read, especially in light of current events and the conduct of another unwinnable war.

3) Cloudstreet - Tim Winton
Actually, any Winton book would fit my top 5, but Cloudstreet IS the great Australian novel. If you haven't read it, you're doing yourself a great disservice. And if you want to ease yourself into the main menu, try reading Winton's Breath as an appetiser.

4) Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
Superb, expressive, brilliant. The inspiration for Coppola's Apocalypse Now. The dark heart of Africa and the darker heart of men. My only criticism is that it's too short.

5) The Little Red Writing Book - Mark Tredinnick
Fancy including a text book in your top 5! But this is no ordinary text book. It is the most superbly written writing book you can imagine. If you aspire to being a writer of any worth, and if you haven't read this book - or it's overseas equivalent Writing Well, you need to get a copy this week.

There are plenty of worthy short-listers: Cormac McCarthy's haunting The Road, Kate Grenville's tragic settlement tale - The Secret River, Peter Carey's True History of the Kelly Gang, Philip Roth's agonising and funny Portnoy's Complaint, E.Annie Proulx's icy and evocative The Shipping News, Keith Richards' autobiography Life, Michka Assayas' conversations with Bono on Bono and Mark Tredinnick's exquisit landscape memoir The Blue Plateau. 

The Loneliness of...

When you think about it, there are few things in life that are more enjoyable if you are alone. But writing is one. And I do a lot of it. Come the end of July, I plan to do some more.

Perhaps that's why the idea of this blog appealed. It will help me keep connections to the other humans. Or maybe I'm doing it because a couple of you goaded me into doing it. Like a dare.

And you know who you are.

Here's hoping we don't all come to regret it.