20 Aug 2006, Comments Off on Book meme

Book meme

Author: Helen

Help. I’ve been tagged by Tigtog and Susoz at once. Better get cracking. I’ve been asked for

1. One book you have read more than once

Oh, lordy. I’m an inveterate rereader and my favourites are many. Which one to pick? OK: Jane Eyre. I love the Victorians. I’ve only read it about a billion times but I still can’t get the fourteen year old girlchild to read it.

Interesting that Pavlov’s Cat and I had the same answer to (1).

The rest of my picks are also on the “read more than once” list.

2. One book you would want on a desert island
Image from Amazon.com
Everyone is cheating by nominating multiple-volume novels, so I’ll pick the Gormenghast trilogy. I’m normally so not a fantasy reader (unlike 99% of bloggers, it appears), so why is this such a big favourite? Maybe because it’s like a piece of Victoriana, more Dickens than dragons. It’s a comedy of manners but with a perfectly realised alternative landscape and society. The people and their architectural and social setting provide all the weirdness you’d ever want without the need for elves and things. Also on the “read more than once” list.

(Mind you, having said all that, I read and enjoyed LOTR.)

3. One book that made you laugh

Like Cold Comfort Farm (which of course also made me laugh), The Poor Mouth, by Flann O’Brien (Myles na Gopaleen) is hugely funny even if you haven’t read the po-faced rural novel or autobiography these books are poking fun at. Angela’s Ashes meets Yorkshiremen. A paper bag in the middle o’ road would have been loooxury to Bonaparte O’Coonassa and his family.
The Picador edition has illustrations by Ralph Steadman, too, which has to be a bonus. Get it and laugh till you weep with Napoleon, the Old-Grey-Fellow and Ambrose the foul-smelling pig. I think that their likes will never be seen again!

4. One book that made you cry

I have a few books from my childhood which I still refuse to give away. One is February Dragon, by Colin Thiele, about a farming family whose house is destroyed in a bushfire.
A few months ago I pulled it out and had a look, as you do, reading while standing because you’re doing housework and so there’s the need to procrastinate. The book has survived well – it was published in 1966 but its colloquial dialogue lets it stand up quite well among today’s junior novels. There are a few clunky bits, like the cardboard-cutout baddie, the evil townie aunt who inadvertently starts a bushfire, the February Dragon of the title.

The aftermath, with the family returning to the burnt-out farm where animals have died, is a shocker. It only dawns on Turps, the little girl, as they approach the place, that she forgot to let her horse out of the stall that morning.

5. One book you wish you had written

Any one of David Foster’s three novels featuring the postman D’Arcy D’Olivieres: Dog Rock, The Pale Blue Crochet Coathanger Cover, or The Glade Within the Grove. Foster’s a rightwing crank, unfortunately, but then again so are or were many great novelists. To me, he evokes Australian culture and speech rhythms (with a bit of room for satire and slapstick) better than anybody else does. He manages to combine an encyclopaedic knowledge of history, religion, mythology and a mountain of detail about anything and everything with a sense of humour and wit that stops the overloaded narrative from getting bogged down. I feel a bit of a twit saying that, not being a book critic or an academic, so feel free to disagree.

These books are high on the “make yer laugh” and “read more than once” list, too.

6. One book you wish had never been written

The f***ing Da Vinci f***ing Code.

7. One book you are currently reading

Mother, Missing by Joyce Carol Oates. The subject matter’s interesting, but the writing reads like she’s churned it out to a deadline. Some of it looks completely unproofread – such as, where she uses slashes as punctuation, which looks really sloppy and School Newsletter-ish.

8. One book you have been meaning to read

Lots. One of them is Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. It’s in our library, but is always on loan; obviously really popular. I’m interested in stories touching on the Autism spectrum (Temple Grandin is also on my to-read list).

9. One Book That Changed Your Life

Peter Singer’s Animal Liberation. I read it in 1975 and immediately became vegetarian for three years. I lapsed afterwards, more’s the pity.

10. Now tag five people.

Barista – Ampersand Duck’s already tagged him, but I thought I would, just to give him the shits.
JahTeh, if she can find the time, being a full time carer ‘n all.
Heck of a Guy Another blogger who can pick up just about any ball and run with it. Also because there seems to be some unwritten rule about not going outside your national boundaries with these memes, so I’m doing it just to be difficult.
Inner Curmudgeon, because he’s obviously been doing too much real life lately.
Armaniac, to see if he’s switched to baby manuals yet.

Comments (0)

  • TimT says:

    But though I am an occasional fantasy and SF reader, I have yet to understand what, exactly, is so good about the Gormenghast books!

    I enjoyed their absurdist humour, and the detail is interesting, but they go on for too long! (I haven’t read the third book yet.)

  • Armaniac says:


    Will do it later this eve, cristy also tagged me, getting there, currently reading about podcasting.

  • armaniac says:

    Done. No, not really onto the baby manuals yet!

  • tigtog says:

    Sqeee! Cold Comfort Farm: now the stremendously obscure secret of my handle can be revealed!

    My parents read CCF aloud to each other during Mum’s pregnancy with moi, and when I was born Dad was so besotted that he decided to call me his “wild marsh tiget” (one of Luke’s endearments for Elfine). Over the years tiget morphed in various ways, so that most of my Dad’s rels still call me “Tigi”, but “tigtog” was the variation I felt best suited to a blogging handle, probably because I’m a sucker for a rhyme.

    The “wild marsh tiget” was probably one of Stella Gibbon’s invented dialect words, like “mollocking” and “scranletting”, as I’ve never been able to find such a bird in any spotters’ manual.

    My family still describes any unspecified busymaking as “scranletting”.

  • tigtog says:

    Ack. It’s Adam Lambsbreath who calls Elfine his “wild marsh tiget”, not Luke. Brainfart.

  • susoz says:

    I read February Dragon too!!! I still have it!!!
    You know, I think it is a bit blatantly propagandistic, ie anti-smoking, but it was very sad.
    My book group recently did a recent Joyce Carol Oates (The Falls) and we were all disappointed. It seems that she’s manic about churning out books these days and the quality is suffering. Her earlier novels were wonderful.
    My SO is currently reading temple Grandin and likes it a lot, but some of what she shows me looks invented to me.

  • Suse says:

    I did these meme recently too and enjoyed reading your responses.

    I found Curious Incident very moving, as it opened up all sorts of realisations for me regarding Son #1. My boys love Colin Thiele; I must look out for February Dragon!

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