Monday, January 31, 2011

The Female Eunuch Opening Line

Well I am reading The Female Eunuch (up to p.32) and whilst it is a good idea to try not to over-anyalise and have opinion about things before getting further into a book, there is a minor issue that needs to be addressed.

This is the opening sentence of the book proper.

"It is true that the sex of a person is attested by every cell in his body."

Firstly, attested is an interesting word that is fun to say and means something along the lines of providing evidence. So we can put that a little less eloquently than Ms. Greer but in perhaps easier understood language.

"In every cell in his body there is evidence of the sex of a person."


"The sex of a person is in evidence in every cell in his body." (True story!)

Whatever. Interesting words aside, this is not the problem with the sentence the problem comes with the second last word

"It is true that the sex of a person is attested by every cell in his body."

His body? What is she on about?! This is supposed to be the preliminary feminist text of the second wave of feminism. It is said to have inspired generations of women to liberate themselves from oppression and move out of the shadow of men. And yet in the opening sentence of the book Ms. Germaine Greer sees fit to use the male to define sex. She is using not her but his as the platform for which everything relates back too. What?! Why?!

Disbelief. The rest of this book better make up for this inital setback. Seriously, I am hoping this is all part of a grand plan to really renounce the male-hegemony of our language. In one sentence the author has earned herself a sceptical reader. This is probably a good thing as at least the reader is active and learning and engaging with the text. Perhaps that was the motivaton. Still, why?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Lost Thing

I am quite excited (a lot of the time actually but more so at the moment) because a series of splendifourous things have happened.

a) A gorgeous book called The Lost Thing by the talented and wondrously imaginative Shaun Tan was written/illustrated.

b) This book was adapted as a stage show (which I unfortunately did not get to see but looked completely lovely and adorable).

c) This book was then adapted into a short animated feature. It is truly stupendous and sweet and everything about it is just about perfect. Shaun Tan co-produced/directed and was intricately involved with the design and it shows, it is such a delightful animation of the story and world on screen. I think SBS might have been involved and it was on the telly, anyway, See here for the trailer:

It is also narrated by Tim Minchin who has a great voice so the whole shabang really works. I found the DVD when I was in the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) in Sydney Town, in their shop. Yes, I might have squealed!

d) The film was watched, loved and enjoyed.


Isn't that one of the most enchanting and wonderful things? Sometimes the stars/or whatever really align and talented and great people get recognised for just how great they are. Shaun Tan's illustrations/artwork/storytelling is second to none.

More info:

I like to think that we are all following a wavy white arrow sometimes.

ANFSCD: Cute Cat on Bonnet Video

This was taken by one of my friends and is terribly cute. Join the the chorus of awwwwwwwww! It has yet to take off as a viral video on YouTube but you never know with cat videos.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Perfume: The Story of A Murderer

Perfume: The Story of A Murderer by Patrick Süskind was recommended to me in December. It was an example of the kind of book that lurks somewhere in my conscious on the 'interesting-but-probably-not-my-thing-because-it-is-probably-revolting' shelf (the most prominent of which is American Psycho of which I have read the first chapters and marvelled at the writing and the pace and the voice but cannot yet bring myself to read the rest, blergh).

Anyways, I was assured by a good friend with fine literary taste that it was fabulous and had some of the most beautiful prose writing she had ever read. I promised to read it and in due course borrowed said book in the Popular Penguin edition. [Side note: I love, love, love these editions and if I were really, really rich I would buy every single one of them! Go Aussie publishing genius!!] Perfume was certainly very readable and in many respects a revelation.

Writing about sensory experiences can be quite difficult and Süskind manages to acutely convey the complexity of his protagonists ability very successfully. Born into a cruel world Grenuoille owns the most advanced nose imaginable. As he grows up and seeks to learn the secrets of distillation of scent he ends up with an unimaginable catalogue of scents locked inside his memory. He is obsessed with scent, with isolating the source and capturing the essence, so much so that it leads him to murder.

Fortunately though, Süskind recognises that unlike Grenouille the reader's nose is not so discerning and their imaginations need more than delicious description of scent. Hence we are treated to an array of intriguing characters that allow for us to form a view of the world that Grenouille by necessity inhabits. The most appealing of these characters is Giuseppe Baldini who is a Master Perfumer who apprentices the nose of the precocious Grenouille. There is a section close to where we are first introduced to this character where we truly get an image of the France this world is set in. The politics, the society the bubbling social upheaval that begins The Enlightenment. An ageing man, Baldini riles against this change but it gives invaluable context and finesse to the rest of the work. So complimenting the focus and intense description of Grenouille's noise is a compelling character novel told in an unobtrusive yet interested narrative voice.

The only bone to pick with this book is the indifferent characterisation of the women Grenouille murders. True, they smell nice. They are intoxicating, but I don't think one of them utters a line of dialogue and the one that becomes the focus of the book towards the end is presented only through the eyes of her father. That said, perhaps this distance allows the reader to follow along with the now-serial-killer Grenouille without complete revulsion. If these characters were given a voice, it would seem like much more than their scent had been harvested. An interesting thought to ponder.

So, it came well recommended and that recommendation is passed on. Overcome the distaste and inhale the somewhat intoxicating language.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

ANFSCD: Monsterpiece Theatre

Monsterpiece Theatre is a joy new to me. Another incredibly amazing things courtesy of the wondrous and hilarious muppets. This is the first one I encountered and it was quite amusing (although to be fair I adore Waiting for Godot and think this misrepresents the intricacies and the beauty of the writing in favour of a cute pay-off). Nevertheless it is well worth a look and Grover should be nominated for Most Amazing Theatrical Performance By A Puppet In A Long While. I think he saves it.


Monday, January 24, 2011

Bookshelf News

Sadly the backdrop to this blog is out of date, the classics and the plays are now STACKED to ensure maximum room. Already the rearranging is starting to overflow. Biography section: why?! Above is an image of how my shelf is not and never will be, almost nothing. However it is quite pleasing on the eye.

Fat is a Feminist Issue

Fat is a Feminist Issue... How to lose eight permanently-without dieting by Susie Orbach:
Verdict = interesting premise and certainly worthwhile but not totally convincing.

I want to preface this conclusion in saying that I do not have a compulsive eating disorder or suffer from weight issues. The case-studies in this book were only relatable in small ways, I think that if you read yourself on the page, this could well be life changing read - so check it out. The body image stuff however is right up everybody's street. Own it.

The main issue I had with the premise is to reduce weight-gain ENTIRELY to the social position of women in society is a little oversimplified. This is actually demonstrated frequently throughout the book when the examples have many complex psychological reasons for compulsive eating. Thus broad statements like "compulsive eating is an individual protest against the inequality of the sexes" (p.185 of my edition) in the conclusion to the book are annoying. Worse it risks demeaning the message. After a book of facing and embracing your body and your individual cause of over-eating you are batted over the head with a slogan. Sweeping political statements have no place in realistic conclusions as they risk giving an unecessary flippance. True this is a matter of personal tastes, but really!

I realise that feminist theory is pertinent to the issue of 'fat' and I agree that Susie Orbach delivers a succinct and very easily digestible account of how it relates to body image etc. and the roles of women in society. I think that starting with this works really well and leads nicely into the more practical analysis of how things are different, difficult and complicated on a personal level.

The cover of my copy (bought in 1982 by my mum) is great. The title is emblazoned and strong. The latest one is above and is less than satisfactory. Although again eye catching. Interestingly the sub-title is not there anymore so perhaps someone realised that body image was what the theory best related too? Maybe. Essentially this book encourages you to accept yourself for who you are. Every little bit including those knees you dislike and every single bit of fat. It also tells you to enjoy food. Neither of them are bad things certainly. So give it a read and see if it is pertinent to your situation. It is certainly interesting.

As a last note there was an extraordinary claim on page 71"Only in literature have women consistently had a voice and a wide audience." This is clearly bollocks. A nice idea but not true at all, isn't it? Writing is certainly a powerful medium but hardly easier for women than men and how many books ever reach a wide audience! Taken out of context that quote could lead to all sorts of feminist misunderstandings. Or misplaced celebrations. Party on Literature I say (which is totally why there is always one week in a course devoted to female authors/playwrights)!
Anyways this post is a little uncrafted and rambling but well intentioned. Now onto The Female Eunuch!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

It's a Mystery! (Round II)

through the medium of wonderfully old-fashioned
black and white studio portraits
lovely ladies of Mystery:
Ms. Dorothy L Sayers

Ms. Ngaio Marsh

Ms. Agatha Cristie


Light Reading for the Fiesty Female

I am a little apprehensive about what I am about to start reading. Fat is a Feminist Issue is a title that has been sitting in our study for ever-such a long time and I am finally going to dive in. Literally and literary. This is a prelude to The Female Eunuch which I am to read as one of my major goals for the summer.

Sometimes you really need to confront those words and ideals that might not necessarily be what you feel comfortable with. Feminism, has become such a harsh word. A derisive word, when really it should not be at all. You can write all you like about first, second and third wave feminism and the conseqeuences and lack thereof! Write about it, but it also needs to be read. Hence now for some light summer reading. Plus Germaine is 73 years old and is on Grumpy Old Women. What is not to like. Gulp?

Am I scared that I will not like these books which are so much a part of our culture and identity? Is it sacrilgeous in a way to disagree with these texts who redefined femininity? Do I want to look in the mirror and face a hypocrit?

Then again maybe I might be looking at myself differently and it won't matter one little bit. Seriously! Then I might be brave enought to tackle My Mother and Myself and Women who Run with Wolves both of which have been given to me by v. lovely and strong women. Then don't be surprised if you get eaten for breakfast.

Friday, January 21, 2011

101 Posts!

101 posts! Well that is quite exciting, I guess. When you start a blog it can be quite a challenge to keep up to date with content and with everything. This year I hope to continue using this space as a way to keep writing, publishing (in some form) and engaging with the creative world. My mother is starting to hassle me into writing reviews of films, etc. and keeping a better track of things that I love and/or dislike. She asserts this is a way to develop ones own iniative but also taste and style. Anyways, we shall see. It is important to discuss WHY one loves/dislikes/cannot stand something is it not?

There is also the very real possibility of many, many more photos. I am planning on setting up a linked Flickr account and uploading things from adventures in the past few years which have never made it onto the screen or even harddrive of my computer.

So Happy 21/1/2011! Happy 101 Post! and Happy any Dalmation related pun you can think of (because I cannot seem to lead any to the surface as I am barking up the wrong tree)!

The Ranger's Apprentice Series

Occasionally, just occasionally when reading, something really surprises you. This happened to me last night when reading The Ruins of Corlan the first in the 'Ranger's Apprentice' series by John Flanagan.

See cover:

First of all I want to put it out there that I ALWAYS JUDGE A BOOK BY IT'S COVER! (This does not mean I necessarily judge the writing or the author, more often that not I have the urge to write to publishers about sacking truly terribly book jacket designers). The 'Ranger's Apprentice' series have awful covers - both the new print run and the old one have horrifically staged and computer generated versions of the characters.

Second of all in this case - rubbish cover aside - the book was great! Really a pleasure to read. I really hope that they continue to be successful and enter the imaginations and bookshelves of many, many children. Too be honest, it is nothing too mind-blowing-ly original but written very succinctly, well and ultimately about a relatable group of characters despite their living in a world very different from ours. So if you have someone in your life in mid-late primary school who likes series of books that are set in a predictable but still good quality fantasy world then give it ago. Or better yet read it yourself. You might be surprised!

Also the cover image here is from the first print run, with the latest release all the others are wrapped in something even more computer generated and sparkly. WHY?!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Trees III (Organ Pipes)

This deserves a post of it's own and is a casing point of any raptures that I tend to dissolve into when it concerns tree silhouettes. I also feel it could make a splendiforously wonderfuly sinister Panto backdrop!
There are wicked witches and wolves and magic lurking in these skies. Totally.

Trees II (Organ Pipes)

Greying skies ahead!

It's looking a trifle ominous now...
Why yes, you are pretty. Close up?

Continuing adventures at the Organ Pipes National Park.

Trees I (Organ Pipes)

Taken at the lovely Organ Pipes National Park sometime in mid 2010. During our meandering walk we encountered many shades of sky and some lovely silhouettes. There is nothing quite as heart-capturing-ly-beautiful as the outline of a tree against the sky. These were taken with my dad's camera which I do not know anything about except it is waterproof!

Top Five for Get Reading

Last year I submitted the top five books of the year for the then called 'Books Alive' competition for booksellers employees. This is the selection for this years 'Get Reading!' Comp:

  1. Dead Man's Chest by Kerry Greenwood (Latest Phryne adventure - in Queenscliffe!)

  2. Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta (Saving Francesca mob back with love and tears)

  3. The Fry Chronicles by Stephen Fry (hilarious and frenetic, much like author)

  4. Dog's Don't do Ballet by Anna Kemp (gorgeous and to be treasured, sosososo cute)

  5. At Home by Bill Bryson (written with a keen interest, intelligence and wit)

I have finished (1.), (2.) and (4.) which I loved to pieces and am part of the way through (3.) and have read an extract and am waiting for the paperback of (5.). Bill Bryson is marvelous but does have the rather insidious habit of publishing his new stuff has hardback first.

It remains to be seen if any of these make the 5o books to read in 2011. Last time I think 3 out of the 5 made the shortlist!

If you want any information on the Get Reading initiative then click here.

It's a Mystery!

I have recently been sampling a wider range of mystery novels than ever before. So in the spirit of sharing and all of that, here is a recent list of mystery authors that I love.

  1. Agatha Christie > unsurprising, but there is a reason why she is the best selling novelist of all time. She is awesome and whilst her work is quite structured it is nearly always riveting. The latest I have read is N or M? which is a WWII spy mystery starring a v. sweet and endearing couple.
  2. Dorothy L. Sayers > Sigh, Lord Peter Whimsey is dashing, witty and generally as nosey as is possible in the most polite of ways. These books (well, as yet I have only read two An Unnatural Death and Nine Tails) are focused on the characters and the world, the incidental-ness of the murder is quite interesting. It isn't the catalyst to the action it is a part of it!
  3. Ngaio Marsh > A writer from NZ with a background in theatre which comes in handy for a very realistic portrayal of elements of theatre life in Death at the Dolphin.
  4. Kerry Greenwood > who I have written about here before. Love her stuff and they are making an ABC television series of the Phryne books which I am terribly excited about.
  5. G.K Chesterton > I am yet to read these but they are at the top of the pile as I found a The Penguin Complete Father Brown!

All very enjoyable and well worth some light reading that is not mind-numbingly vapid.