Thursday, March 31, 2011

My Reading News

For the record, I am reading it and today I found myself perusing the pages of The Female Eunuch whilst wearing an apron and cooking dinner.

In other reading news the new Jasper Fforde One of Our Thursdays is Missing I found dissappointing. WHY? WHY! Why do fabulous ideas and series become tired? Answer me that. I found myself not really caring how zany it was. Bad sign.

Also I finally read Freedom by Jonothan Franzen and if you have any interest in contemporary American culture you must read it. It is beautifully written and whilst none of the characters we particularly nice to each other it was an absolute pleasure.

Oh, and John Mortimer's The Sound of Trumpets scored for $2 was a fun and entertaining read with a last line that sat sadly and flat.

Student Body - Theatre Review

Student Body

By Alana Valentine

Presented by BOOBook Union House Theatre Thursday 24/3/2011 (Great website!)

Worthy is a word which has come to have unpleasant connotations and in relation to art/theatre/books it especially can sound cloying and judgmental. However it is without hesitation that I proclaim that the ideas, production and intent behind BOObook Theatre’s Student Body as worthy. Student Body was a play that grapples with what it means to be an International Student in Melbourne. Playwright Alana Valentine drew on the real-life experiences of students living in a foreign country and combined this around the Chinese dragon mythology.

Directed and choreographed by Dione Joseph this work is heartbreakingly important, not only for international students but for anyone who goes to Uni with these students, lives with, works with or teaches them with them on any level. Her use of dance really worked alongside the text to bring to life a rich performance.

It was clear from the production, the depth of commitment of the entire crew in this show; this was demonstrated for example with Tara Patwardhan subtle costume design. Little patches of scales appeared the various costumes of Kelly Ryan as the show progressed, aligning her visually with dragons. Also her bra costume was hilarious and a sharp contrast to the magical realism of the other designs. The set – designed by Felix Ho – was impressive, non-naturalistic and adaptable and worked well with the AV. The AV was also a useful and well used element in the set, far to often it distracts from the actors, but on this occasion it worked really well. Composer Annie Hui-Hsin Hsieh provided a wonderful soundtrack for the work and Jonothan the cellist stuck a great balance between complementing the action and captivating the audience with his own performance. Altogether this was a show with great production values.

Student Body was a very well cast play and every actor had a depth to their performance that worked in nicely with the movement and mask work. The four characters are Kai Chai (Keith Brockett), Fon (Sheena Rayes), Aditya (Ash Kakkar), Song Ye (Rachel Fong), Dragon/Various (Kelly Ryan). Each of these characters was given a moment in the work to reveal their story and their difficulties of surviving in an unwelcome country. Song Ye’s bewilderment and anger at having a beautiful day ruined by racial abuse was a simple and yet undeniably powerful example of these difficulties.

In regards to the writing and structure, pacing was a little bit of an issue for me in this play; it seemed that the entire work shifted up three gears in the second act. Perhaps a condescended first half might have still established characters and tone without feeling such a ‘set up’ for what was to come. The love story of this play was nominally between Fon and Kai Chai but the real dramatic relationship in the group of friends was realised between Fon and Song Ye as they confronted each other about adapting into the mainstream culture or maintaining their traditional values. The climax in the prolonged argument was explosive and a high point of the show. It left me and the people I was sitting with gasping.

Considering the content, this play was written to be performed at a University. However, the play in the Union House Theatre felt rather small in comparison to the seating bank; I feel it would be suited to a more intimate experience in a smaller black-box venue – a longer season perhaps compensating for the reduction of audience capacity. But certainly even in a larger space the performance filled the stage and was most definitely worthy.

Book Trade Article up on Upstart!

Reading Between the Shelves!
Above is a very exciting print screen! Below is a very exiting link to the edited version of 'An Opinion on the Australian Book Industry' - I think it reads much better. Thanks to Upstart and the editing team - especially for the title.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Competition fun in 120 characters!

Here is a challenge for you. A short story in 120 characters or less! Try it. It is fun and infuriating. Below is my effort:
She'd fried onions in a pan and left a plate of rings. He ate her tears. Caramalised, they slip easily down his throat.

You can follow the link here for more info on the competition, ways to enter and ways to like.

Gustave Moreau - and the Eternal Feminine NGV

There are unicorns and classical nudes dancing and prancing about with Jupiter and flimsy gauze drapery in the National Gallery of Victoria (International) at the moment. There is a small but fabulous guest exhibition of French Artist Gustave Moreau's work on show. To put simply these sketches, paintings, watercolours and ink drawings are sumptuous. Moreau combined his fascination with myth with a eye for the female form and great technique. Revolutionary technique in some cases, with many details overlayed in black/white over the main painting. This intricacy has the effect of flattening the work when you were up close but take a few steps back and it opens an entirely new depth. Lovely. Lovely. Lovely. Also a treat were the excerpts of critical reviews contemporary to the work. We were able to read the cutting remarks that lead to to his exile. The painting which was so derided is below: There was considerable hatred directed not only at the painting (especially the weird head) but also the artist. Is it any wonder that he left the establishment and redeveloped himself for a splendiforous return. Again we were provided with critical praise and love which greeted this rejuvenation.

(Admittedly this is a crappy reproduction, it really is worth the admission price to see this painting in person, so head on down there!)

Much of that on show came from Moreau's personally established museum in Paris, so many works were in these delightful hinged frames that would have been collated together for patrons/art admirers to flick through. I know that when I eventually get to Paris a visit his museum will be high on my list of priorities.

Curating-wise, it was pretty good, although there wasn't a neat line through the rooms AND there was little or no discussion of the 'feminine' and the gaze of the artist apart from the fact that he liked painting nudes. REALLY! There was a lot of potential for a more interesting interpretation especially as they were often maligned classical figures. This annoyance aside, it just goes to show that even outside the Winter Masterpiece series we get hidden gems of touring exhibitions.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Cheap Books?

Cheaper Books?

Recently I had an epiphany! In the debate over pricing and availability in the Australian Book Industry there has been much said over the expense of books in this country. Until recently I have always accepted that this may be a little true but as our paper is better quality in the US and our industry is smaller there is explanations for this that make sense. We need a viable industry and books are priced accordingly. But recently I was talking to my boss, recently back from the Leading Edge conference for Independent Booksellers and they mentioned a highlight was Henry Rosenbloom – head of Scribe and an important voice for Independent Retailers. He made the point that the claim that books are expensive in Australia should be countered by the simple question:


And there is the epiphany. Right there! See, what he was saying and what I now am realising is that books aren’t that expensive. Bear with me here.

You pay $30 for a CD; for an adult to go to the movies it is at least $15 and if you want a 3D experience you can ad on top of that – and as for popcorn? A drink? Then a $5 choc-top; a half decent pub meal is at least $20-$30; people are guilty of spending much, much more on ‘a good night out’; a mediocre bottle of wine is up to $30; some DVDS hit $40.

Shall I go on?

Do people often complain about the price of crockery; or furniture? No. These prices are justified for the amount of use one gets out of them. The same people who spend $3000 on a designer handbag or even $45 on a nice canvas tote are often the same ones who are whinging about book prices. I mean, really!

A standard large format Trade Paperback averages at $33. When these drop down to smaller format they range between $21.95 and $26.95 and then when they get reprinted they go down in price again. Many classics are available for under $15, the Popular Penguins for under $10. Paperback children’s fiction and teen fiction rarely goes over $20. Hardbacks are a different price range, but again, prices come down with format.

Now, I’m a fast reader. It might take me four hours to polish off Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows with no gaps or a couple of busy days to finish Never Let Me Go on the train. (Don’t talk to me about The Female Eunuch it is still being unread). Most people take much longer to read a book and get an extended enjoyment out of it. There is a consistent, lasting reliable form of entertainment in a book.

You might argue this is value for money. A film lasts a couple of hours; most CDs are under an hour; a meal often less. And you know? Best of all, you can read it again. It is your right to do that, or read a favourite passage. A book will sit on your shelf and be your friend whenever you might need it. Or alternatively buy second hand (score!) or visit your library. As long as you are reading, you are growing.

The Dream Life of Butterflies MTC Review

An unexpected theatre attendance is often very rewarding. As much as anticipating a show can be fun, a lot of the time is spent forming preconceptions and judgments beforehand. It can be more interesting on occasion to go on a whim or in this case be given a ticket by a friend especially to the MTC Lawler Studio which has a reputation for producing new Australian plays. The Dream Life of Butterflies by Raimondo Cortese is a play of potential. It had the potential to be a great piece of theatre, the idea certainly was interesting but the execution was more than a little flat.

“A terrible taboo” is how playwright Raimondo Cortese describes the subject matter of the play. In fact it is a terribly sad, but quite real story. That a huge dramatic importance has been placed on the significance of then “taboo” does not really do justice to the story. Also the “betrayal” is not any betrayal in the normal sense of understanding of the world. These women share a common secret but to judge either of them is superficial and clearly does not reflect the depth of understanding and connection that they have.

The supposedly “charged silences” of this play were not as charged as they were intended to be. They sat uncomfortably not between the characters and in the space. Incidentally the setting, the “room” in a huge space was also unhelpful in this respect. The action was displaced onto this bare and minimal set with benches rather than couches and it removed it from the domestic reality of the women. That is not to say that Marg Horwell’s design was not aesthetically pleasing, it was, it just did not seem to fit with the rest of the play. This was true in respect to most of the elements of the work.

It might be a wee bit old-fashioned, but I feel that within itself that a piece of theatre should be connected. This performance much like its characters was not at all. The (admittedly very beautiful) live music played on the harpsichord by Anastasia Russell-Head seemed completely detached from the action, the story and the people. It was almost entirely extraneous and this was a real shame, for if it had been integrated a little into the action, or referred to there would have been a layered meaning to the piece. Perhaps the strange neighbour plays the music; perhaps Marco used to play the harpsichord; perhaps Charlie is connected; perhaps their mother. I don’t know but it felt completely random.

Put simply The Dream Life of Butterflies would probably have made an excellent, very intensely dramatic short story or short play. But over one-and-a-half-hours it lagged and it was unsustainable in tension, story and character. The actors worked hard in a production that did little to assist their performances. Condensed in scale of both setting and length it would have been a much stronger work that may have been more successful in allowing them to present their “core problem” to a more receptive audience.

Café Scheherazade Review

Café Scheherazade is a play written by Therese Radic, adapted from Arnold Zable’s much loved book. [A disclaimer to begin this review, I have yet to read the novel, although having read and heard Zable’s writing I do have an idea about the pacing and style of his writing]. It tells the story of a café in Acland Street, St. Kilda that was the home of discussion, debate and company for Jewish people in Melbourne displaced by the atrocities in Europe and Soviet Russia in WWII. It was a place for them to drink and eat together and to tell stories and it is into this café that the audience is invited, to share in these often heartbreakingly intense tales of survival. There are strong images that appear throughout this play – the Japanese Ambassador stamping papers for Jewish refugees to escape to the East even as his train was leaving and he was summoned back to Japan in disgrace – the mother giving her scarf to her liberation fighting son – the little boy sitting down in the middle of a frozen river – a second and recently formed family was murdered leaving a man entirely alone – and the moon offering an alternative world for a collapsing man marching through the snow. The voices are haunted in this café as they relate their stories. The desperation of these people, the humanity is a stark contrast to the warmth and comfort of the schnitzels, black forest cake and coffee of the café. In reading a little about the process of adapting the novel it is easy to believe that the original script for Café Scheherazade was over three hours long. For these are family histories and memories that deserve the time to evolve in the minds of audiences. Now at ninety minutes the play does its best to dramatise the few chosen stories. Yet even with these few selected stories it felt that there was an almost frenetic pace for all of it to fit. Memories moved between each other and crossed over and at times it was a little difficult at times to discern the separate integrity of each story. To do justice to each, perhaps a structure of separate short plays woven into the overall narrative of the café might have been an alternative option. Certainly the most identifiable stories of the play are that of the owners and how they survived, met each other and eventually established the café. The story of Masha Zeleznikow was especially beautifully performed by Marta Kaczmarek. Her movements, her voice and her performance were so real. In light of the rapidly moving scenes, the times where the words were allowed to sit in the air were amongst the most powerfully affecting theatre that I have ever seen. After relating the horrors of forcing parents to choose which children would be accompanying them and which would be left to die the character of Avram Zeleznikow paused. There was a heavy silence before he very quietly and slowly said: “It was impossible to understand. It can never be understood.” This line encompasses the both bemusement of reflecting back on such horrors but also the importance of remembering what has passed so we can collectively prevent any such happenings occurring again in the future. Director Bagryana Popov wisely chose a non-naturalistic aesthetic for this piece and it was accompanied by the wonderful live music of Ernie Gruner and Justin Marshall. The accordion especially proved a diverse instrument providing breaths of wind to accompany one story. There was a great sense of community in this production, with a strong ensemble cast and musical direction by Elissa Goodrich. Many of those involved had been a part of the process since the plays first readings. Fortyfivedownstairs has become a Melbourne institution and has become a valuable venue both in terms of an adaptable theatrical space and the variety of stories that are performed there. This was demonstrated in the note in the program by the Artistic Director of the organisaion when she described the necessity of this work. Café Scheherazade is now closed but through the novel and this play the stories and the memories and its people will live on.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Mary Poppins Review (or Gush!)

I have had the utmost privilege to have seen the stage show of Mary Poppins not once, but twice! Once on the London West End with my lovely cousin and once last Friday here in Melbourne town with my lovely mother and some lovely friends. You must excuse the slight gushiness of the following review but it is so fantastic and beautiful and glorious that it really cannot possibly be any other way.

Mary Poppins occupies a very special place in my heart. I never liked the Sound of Music because although the songs were fabulous there was too much icky romance and boy were those Nazi's scary so my Julie Andrews fix was her as Mary Poppins. Oh and Bert! and the Penguins and the laughing. I loved it. I still have the original video we taped off the telly with now very old fashioned early 90s British ads for floor furnishings and Frosty Flakes. I also have the DVD. And the soundtrack. Which I know off by heart. I think a big part of my Feminism comes straight out of the awesomeness of that 'Sister Suffragette' song. Truly! Well I like to think so.

Then of course (being a bookish family) I was treated to the books, which I enjoyed but not quite as much as the movie. They were a lot less sparkly - clearly being a sucker for sparkly things it was lacking - but I did re-read the first one and the adventures were more diverse and there were more children. Well worth reading in their own right.

So when it was adapted for the stage from both the books and the movie I had to see it. And then see it again. Do you know what? It's better the second time round. Why? Was it because I knew the new songs? Because I could see better in Premium A reserve? Was not comparing it so much to the movie? Not sure exactly but it was essentially a flawless production showcasing great artistic skill.

The songs were great, the performance flawless, the energy spectacular and if you get the chance to even see the show once, do! It's "practically perfect, in every way!"

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

An Awesome Feminist-y Website

There is a new feminist voice in the house: LadyApocalypso and whilst the addition to the blogroll on this site is proving a little elusive there is a link in this post which you should totes click on and read on. There seems to be a lot of interesting stuff, especially on music!

I was linked to this site by a friend in England. True story! Go her! And to celebrate all that is British and Feminist I bring you my favourite picture of the day (as seen on the lovely Lady Apocalypso)

It made me giggle. Quite a bit.

Oscar Wilde Musings

It has come to my recent attention that Oscar Wilde was married. Can you imagine? Costance Lloyd must have been quite a woman! Also in light of the recent television series The Good Wife an even more remarkable woman to have remained married to him, despite estrangement over his various public liasons. Well, perhaps she was more of a silly woman to have matained the pretence of marriage - or perhaps it gave her the freedom to bring up her children without public reproach and without the pressure to re-marry. Who knows?

Oscar Wilde is one of my absolute favourite writers, people and I adore his plays. And his words, sigh, what words!! Although to be fair, living with such a wit would be a challenge even if he wasn't interested in you as a woman.

There is a play in there somewhere, surely?!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Amanda Palmer Down Under

Isn't it cool when things in the world connect in awesome ways. Well, Neil Gaiman has long been a favourite author. He is by far the best contemporary short story writer that I have read - specialsing in magical realism true but such craft! Totally as cool as they come, too! He recently married the somewhat awesome and also incredibly cool Amanda Palmer.

So within this context on International Women's Day she came to Melbourne University for a talk and I bought her signed CD Amanda Palmer Goes Down Under. It is great! There is cute-ness; there is hilarity and then there is poignancy. And a smidgin cannibalism. But there you go! We can't all be vegetarians.

Below is a song she performed for us, that isn't on the CD but is great. She does these ninja gigs all over the world when she is touring via twitter. Anyway, enjoy and totally check some of her other things out. Not just because she is married to Neil Gaiman but because she is fabulous in her own right too!

Monday, March 14, 2011

An Opinion on the Australia Book Industry

In the current book industry debate that has been reignited with Borders and Angus and Robertson going into voluntary administration there has been a distinct lack of Independent Book Industry voices. There has been a lot of consumer complaint generally on prices and misinformed discussion on the rise of online shopping and e-readers. This has been reinforced with the REDGroup choosing to deflect attention from poor business practices in favour of inflaming consumer sentiment against the Australian book trade.

In response to these assertions the Australian Booksellers Association has been slow to defend the industry. In the media there has been a consistent campaign to discredit the trade and in the face of this so-called popular discourse there has been especially little or no public support for Independent booksellers. Australia has a unique industry where unlike anywhere else in the world over 20% of the shops are Independent Retailers.

Debate is a good thing, no one is disputing that. But for an accurate and informed discussion to be taking place there needs to be two sides. It is time for the Australian Booksellers Association to take a strong stance on this issue. Consumers might have a right to source books from wherever they desire but this right should be informed. The current one-way traffic is misleading for online experiences and e-readers are not as fabulous or choice-educing as we are being led to believe. It unsurprisingly can be much more rewarding to head to on down to a local bookshop to have a chat, get a recommendation and fabulous service with a smile.

The REDGroup might be taking the line that their failure is all to do with people sourcing cheaper books online and e-readers but this is clearly spin that distracts from their shops not catering for customer needs. But of course, when your business has millions and millions of dollars owed to creditors, blame the government! Stock in these stores had become so diversified that it diversified into nothing. Do we as customers really want a bookstore that sells kitchen appliances? Or to be frank, do we really want the Recommended Retail Priced raised on most stock to subsidise unrealistic specials? In times when the retail market gets tough it is most often the poorly run businesses that fall. A large part of working in the book industry is about reading and sharing your reading with others. It is not about grabbing market-share and launching failed attempts at monopolies.

Buying online is not necessarily cheaper, it fluctuates. There is not the opportunity to see the book you are buying and if you need to return it for any reason, good luck with that. It is a complete fallacy that people have always an improved shopping experience online. Apart from anything else, Borders has an extensive online presence and their own e-book business. Maintaining that it was increased online sales that busted their business is untenable. It may be a contributing factor to a changing industry but is not the root cause of their voluntary administration. Secondly, in regards to industry publishing protections the REDGroup supported the 30 day overseas embargo even under their proposal to ease import restrictions. The Rudd Government was right to reject the Productivity Commission recommendations to allow parallel imports of books. It would not have reduced prices for consumers and it would not have prevented the business failings of Angus and Robertson and Borders.

E-readers are the other ‘life-changing’ and exciting technology that is certainly challenging our book industry. Or becoming an integral part of our book industry, depending on whose spin you are buying into. Clearly they do have a role, but the extent and popularity of e-readers is generally overplayed. There are many situations where they are completely impractical and the quality of the print, backlighting and ink has yet to match the quality of the printed text.

There is no replacement for the tactile feeling of turning a page, of breathing in that simultaneously fresh and musty smell of a new book. As you flick through, inhale and savour those pages that hold the story. Remember that iconic image ingrained into our collective consciousness of a lady on the beach, with a big floppy sunhat, lying back on a towel with a paperback bent open. This might sound a trifle nostalgic, but it is also practical. Sand does not agree with technology. Neither does water. Or for that matter young children. The e-book you bought might have been cheaper but the e-reader you have to replace is a whole lot more expensive.

Where is the Australian Bookseller’s Association voice here? It is time that our industry body advocated for the book industry in all its forms. The amount of discussion with customers in the shop about Angus and Robertson and Borders going into administration has been enormous. Contrary to the persistent mutterings in the media about prices, internet and e-readers the majority of consumers are genuinely concerned about the book industry. You do not get a many opportunities for a face to face gossip on the internet. Nor will you also receive cheerful advice on what to buy for an eight-year-old or your mother-in-law, before having your chosen gift wrapped in pretty paper.

We need to move beyond the spin of REDGroup and their so-called justifications for their collapse in order to preserve the integrity of the remaining businesses in the book trade. A bit of love and a positive attitude for books would go a long way to reminding people of how lucky we are in Australia to have many alternatives to Angus and Robertson and Borders. Perhaps what our industry needs is more creative solutions and responses to the changing market. The recent release of the Popular Penguins range is a casing point of a publisher responding to a need and then capitalising on a gap in the market. The incredible reception of these retro-style paperbacks has excited much interest overseas with the idea gaining traction with Penguin in the UK as well as the US. Popular Penguins have fast become amongst the biggest sellers for the United Group. Let us creatively respond to the shifting dynamics in the book trade rather than blaming the internet, technology and the government.

Personally I think that whatever happens we will not stop reading, people instead will read in different ways all at the same time. People love books and there is something inherently human about escaping into the pages into another world. Some consumers may choose access this from a screen; others might ship it in from overseas, but a substantial number of them still really love the opportunity to pop back into where they bought the book and share how much they loved it. And you know what? We love that interaction too. It informs our hand-selling; our buying; our knowledge of books and ultimately our service.

Currently our representatives are underestimating the wonder and uniqueness of what lies within our Australian book trade. Fortunately like books you cannot judge an industry by its cover.

I wrote this for my boss at work, you might end up seeing it somewhere else too. Who knows? Also I feel I should mention that knowing people who work in Angus and Roberson and Borders makes this harder. Companies have to take responsibility for what their staff have to endure.

Writing Each Day.

I read today in the paper that Phillip Pullman (of His Dark Materials Trilogy fame) recommends that writers develop a habit of writing. This is also true in particular for blogging, is it not? I find that as much as I tend to put of writing or starting to write until later in the day, I get much more done starting early. Today for instance I have a synposis! True, it is massive and over-written and a bit long but it is there and waiting to be re-worked.

There is of course dangers in developing too much habit within your creativity. To this end my latest draft of my novel extract (which as soon as I have finished this post I will be returning to) is not in verdana. Gasp! I hear you cry. This is indeed a little of my reaction, but returning to Times New Roman has given a different vibe to the piece. Seriously. Perhaps as it is as I am a quite a visual person that I love verdana and all its little fat, squashed letters. Perhaps for the same reason this draft feels more serious and proper than previous ones as it is in Times New Roman. Who knows? The habit however need to be broken a little, or changed, or adapted. In the same vein it is good to go and type outside for a bit.

Then again, wherever one is writing it is good to be writing. Besides, there are other accompianing habits that will never change. Tea?

To Whit - my mothers chai. Recipe to follow soon!

Sunday, March 13, 2011


For my manuscript submission there is a dreadful accompaniment. A SYNOPSIS. Now, let me make it quite clear that I understand in principle why the world has a need for synopses but I really, really find them hard to write. Really hard. Argh. They nearly always sounds incredibly dull and boring and all "then this happened" and then "this" and "so" ooooh, "but then".

Another side issue is complicated things are almost impossible to summarise. You ask someone what they are writing their PhD on. Go on! Do you have a spare half hour? The good thing though, about having to write a synopsis is that you have to know what you are writing about. An excellent thing to know; a useful way of consolidating ideas and potentially tie-ing everything together in a little pretty bow.

And that dear reader, is the ultimate satisfying reading gift.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Meet Alfie.

This is Alfie. Alfie is one of my oldest friends. We grew up together, I had The Alfie Great Outdoors book which was a collection of stories and poems and also an alphabet book. I love Shirley Hughes' artwork and stories. They are fabuluous and she is very talented as demonstrated by the picture above. Today at work a lady bought an Alfie book on my recommendation and it made my day.

Head on to this website to meet Alfie for yourself!

Howl. Ginsberg. Movie. ?

Is it a little strange that as a lover of words Howl sort of blanks my mind?
Is it a little strange that I nevertheless have the pretention to own a bag proclaiming 'Starving; Hysterical; Naked' ?

Is it also strange that reading about this movie, makes me plan outings to see it and makes me want to read the thing again?

Perhaps I want to love it. Know I should love it. And really do.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Dali - ng Street Art.

The backdrop of my laptap making a guest appearance in the alley way that houses the wonderful Sister Bella. Very exciting! And it is such a fabulous image, with the blue and then the wear and tear on the face. To whoever pasted it up there I raise a glass of cheap sparkling white white in your direction. Darling, you made my day!

Tripple Ripple by Brigid Lowry Book Review

I am somewhat of a meta-whore. By that I mean I love all things meta, fiction, theatre, telly. ANYTHING AT ALL WHICH IS SELF-REFERENTIAL I COVET. There are various reasons for this, including the lovely layers, the opportunity to create deeper understanding and of course the appreciation of the apparent surface simplicity being a complex craft.

Tripple Ripple by Brigid Lowry is by all accounts a book that I should champion. It has three entwined stories. The Writer writing the fairytale; the fairytale itself and the Reader reading the fairytale. To put it bluntly, it is a very neat idea but conceptually it falls a little short. There is always a risk when embracing the meta of clunky and forced interaction between the strands. The book unfortunatly starts like this. Jarring and annoying you don't really get the opportunity to know the characters in any strand. This fortunatly weaves together much better as the book progresses. The writer's life changes and so does the story. It starts to connect all together in a very satisfying way. AND THEN. It goes and falls apart again. Pooh! I think sadly this is the fault of the Reader Character/story. There is way too much happening in her life and for it to tie in properly it should have really connected to the fairytale and the writer more.

I totally get that the entire thing is constructed to be like this and there are continually endearing reminders of this with the incredibly adorable chapter headings. But really. Ultimately finishing this book was frustrating. The would-be-glorious-meta-structure was only partially successful and ultimately I think would have perhaps worked much better with only the writer and the fairytale. These two stories were much more engaging, entwined and entertaining than the token teenage woes that seemed to distract.

Side note: Cover not all that great at a closer look, but interal design really awesome; different fonts worked surprisingly well!