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
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.