Monday, February 15, 2010

Reading as of Now:

Moab is my Washpot is the autobiographical account of Stephen Fry and his rather delicious first twenty years as a class clown, thief, rubbish swimmer and general juvenille delinqant. It was to put it finely, really, rather good. Wonderful, actually.

Although, of course, I am duty bound to inform the esteemable Mr. Fry that his writing is incredibly fast past and one is given to nearly passing out as one reads through nearly half a page of this gorgeous prose without giving the chance to even take one breath and pause and reflect on the sentence structure or indeed the contents of what has just been revealed! (gasp).

Stephen Fry is one of my utmost favourite people. I love his intelligence; his writing; his humour; his wit; his broken nose; his acting; his genuine interest in life and his poetry. In other words apart from a sprinkling of punctuation he is just about as marvelous as anyone can get.

I have moved on to read Paperweight - a collection of his radio performances; articles; essays and musings. I am enjoying it immensly in small doses. Just as lovely as his longer work. And much more digestable!

Reading as of Now:

Shades of Grey is Jasper Fforde's latest book to be published in Australia. As an avid fan of both the Nursery Crime and Thursday Next series, it was a minor disappointment that it was not to be the latest installment in either series. Nevertheless it looked promising.

And indeed it just about lived up to expectations. I think the main difference between Shades of Grey and his previous writing is the pacing. It laboriously sets about the task of 'world-building.' We are deposited in a Colourtocracy where colour perception is regulated. But it is a world constructed with a delicate watercolour brush rather than the excitingly dynamic post-impressionist strokes of his earlier work. It is well written and enjoyable to read, but plot wise it is a definate set up for the next two books.

Yet another series to wait for...

Reading as of Now: /An Absolute Fave:

xx My Family and Other Animals xx

Gerald Durrell was one of the pioneering conservationists of the Twentieth Century. His conservation and zoology efforts were funded through extensive and popular forays into television and writing. The most popular and enduring work being My Family and Other Animals the story of his childhood adventures in Corfu. This book sat on my shelf from an early age, but remained unread until about three years ago when I first ventured into his intriguing animal world.

The success of the writing lies in the brilliant blend of biography and zoology. Gerry’s dysfunctional family: the long suffering Mother; the eldest Larry a writer of frustrated genius; gun mad Leslie; and the acne-prone and unlucky in love Margo interact with each other, the locals and the wildlife that Gerry collects. They inhabit a series of villas where every matchbox could be the home of a family of scorpions; where dinner can be interrupted by an angry gull under the table; and where ‘magenpies’ can disrupt a room more thoughroughly than any thief. It is impossible for one to read without laughing and more importantly without learning.

With his wit and humour Gerald Durrell created a window into nature through his own childlike wonder as an eleven year old set loose in biological paradise that is Corfu. It is through the eyes of Gerry that we can appreciate and wonder that earwigs present different behaviour in guarding their eggs at night or that sea slugs squirt water from each end when you squeeze them in the middle. His intense fascination can lead even those disinterested in nature to appreciate the need to preserve our unique ecology.

This message was also reinforced by Gerald Durrell’s success in creating his own zoo and education facility as a base for his worldwide conservation projects. Durrell Zoo in Jersey (Channel Island) is run by the charitable Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust and is a fitting memorial to the man who preceded David Attenborough as the voice of conservation.

My Family and Other Animals occupies significant part in popular history. There has been a successful BBC telemovie adaptation and many printed editions, including in the Popular Penguins series. So read, laugh and learn about the world we should be striving to protect.