Posts Tagged ‘Australia’

5th April
2010
written by Steph

A cracking good read

I first heard about this book over at Farm Lane Books, back when it had first won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize.  It isn’t a book that I necessarily would have been drawn to on my own, but Jackie’s review of this controversial (due to its content) novel, certainly piqued my interest.  So, when I saw an ARC pop up at BookPage that no one else wanted, I nabbed it and dove right in. The Slap follows several families based in Melbourne, Australia, who come together for a barbecue.  At this gathering, one of the adults slaps a young child who is acting out, but this causes a huge kerfuffle because it is not his own child he has physically reprimanded.  The resulting chapters take us through the chaos that ensues over the subsequent weeks, which we witness through the eyes of various characters.  We aren’t just privy to the direct fall out of the slap itself and how that issue is resolved, but also the various ways in which the characters' lives are disturbed, in some senses irretrievably. (more…)
24th August
2009
written by Steph
G'day, G'day!

G'day, G'day!

I am not sure if I have ever documented it here, but I generally dread watching movies that are more than 90 minutes long.  Normally I can stretch myself to 2 hours if necessary, but in most cases, movies past the 120 minute mark are needlessly bloated and I get grumpy about having had to sit still for that long.  Plus I tend to get bored and sleepy.  Maybe part of this stems from the fact that we don’t have any kind of cable (basic or otherwise), so we tend to watch Netflix stuff during the evening… and if a movie is longer than 2 hours, then that means a good chunk of our night is gone if we’re watching it on a “school night”.  So things did not bode well for Australia going in, and some might wonder why it even wound up on our queue.  Well, I love me some Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge is probably one of my top 10 favorite movies) AND I have recently been going through a phase where I am fascinated by the land down under (mostly the accents, I think)… so both of these factors managed to cancel out the 165 (!!!) minute runtime and we decided to give this a go. (more…)
5th August
2009
written by Steph

Isn't that cover gorgeous?

Several years ago, my real-life bookclub selected Cloudstreet from a series of Australian novels as our next read.  I don’t remember a whole lot about the book, to be honest, though I do remember being equal parts amused and flummoxed by the inundation of Australian slang.  Today I would say the book painted a vivid portrait of families in Australia and the Aussie mentality, and Winton isn’t afraid of getting down into the dirty underbelly of working-class families and the hands Fate deals us.  I didn’t blog back then, but I did jot down a few notes about each book I read in my Excel spreadsheet, so here’s what I thought of Cloudstreet at the time:
Took me much longer to finish than it should have; was not a difficult read despite the reviews; characters were compelling at times, but overall I didn't feel that I learned or took anything from this book, and none of the characters were all that vivid to me; do see the somewhat hopeless yet hopeful aspects to the family, I don't necessarily get why we're supposed to care about them... also what was with the serial killer plotline? 3 out of 5.
Hmmm… apparently with time, my appraisal of Cloudstreet has somewhat softened, as that review doesn’t sound all that positive.  Perhaps it’s for the best I didn’t revisit that review before purchasing a few more Winton volumes on my recent trip to the used bookstore!  My line of thinking had essentially been, “Tim Winton!  I’ve read a book by him… Cloudstreet was alright, and I do want to read some more Australian fiction.  Why not give these a go?  They’re cheap!  Done!”  And that is how I came to own copies of Breath and The Riders. How I came to actually read Breath is a different story, but not really all that complicated either.  Sometimes I finish a book and have no idea what I want to read next.  I just want to dive into a great story and let it take me away.  Given how voluminous my TBR pile is, I can sometimes find it daunting to pick a new book since I tend to want to read them all right then!  In times like that, I find it can be really helpful to not overthink but to just pick up a book and start reading.  The genius with Breath is that it was a relatively slender volume (so not intimidating), and I also didn’t know anything at all about what it was about so there was nothing to overthink.  I just had to jump in feet first and hope for the best! (more…)
25th July
2009
written by Steph

Worth owning for the drool-inducing cover alone?

Given my love of reading in real life, I’m often drawn to books that feature protagonists that also show some serious lit love.  One glance at the cover of The Secret of Lost Things and you know it’s gonna be a book about books.  When I found out it involved a young woman who winds up working in a used bookstore only to become embroiled in the hunt for a lost, unpublished manuscript by Herman Melville, I knew this was a book I had to read (despite not having read any Melville myself).  You all know that I love a mystery, and a literary mystery?  Even better! It turns out TSoLT both exceeded and fell short of my expectations.  Let me explain.  As soon as I bring back books from the used bookstore, the first thing I do is catalog them in my GoodReads library, because I love lists and am obsessive that way.  I always get a thrill when I pick up a book on a whim only to find it’s been generally rated quite highly by the rest of the book reading community.  When I entered in TSoLT, it had a relatively meager 3.06 rating, and the bulk of the first reviews I skimmed were generally very negative (we’re talking 1 star ratings… I almost never give books such a low score!).  So I had my hopes severely dashed that this would wind up being a good read and shunted it to the bottom of the pile.  Fast forward several months to a few days ago when I was looking for a book that would have an engaging plot but not necessarily challenge me.  I wanted something to capture my attention but not really require much effort on my part… so I figured I would give TSoLT a shot, because why not?  I picked it up and started to read and… I was completely swept away.  It was by no means a perfect book and yet parts of it really resonated with me, and I wound up finding it a really fun and effortless read; it was the kind of book where you read 30 pages without realizing it.  So in that sense, TSoLT exceeded my expectations and absolutely fit the brief for what I was looking for. (more…)
25th March
2009
written by Tony
Is this about Jesus in Australia? Or is this a message to Australia?

Is this about Jesus in Australia? Or is this a message to Australia?

Recently my company did some work for the Nashville Advertising Federation for their 2009 Addy Awards ceremony. Unfortunately for Nashville, there aren't that many agencies, let alone good agencies, doing ad work. Let's just put this in perspective by saying that Bohan Agency won around 50% of the 213 gold and silver Addys awarded. Literally. I designed the artwork placards, so I know. Also, every time the announcer said "Gold Addy Award" we all thought he said "Go Daddy Award" (who knew this was an internet/hepcat event?). Anyway, there were a couple of standouts that both won Gold Addys that I wanted to share (see above, left, for number one) and are the reason I am starting a new category for the blog: the Bad Design Award. I've got nothing against Jesus, he sounds like a nice guy, but why is he in Australia? Why do I need to follow him there? I hope he flew coach, those tickets are pricey. Bring a camera? Or is this supposed to be read as "It all comes back to Jesus: Follow Him Australia" where the message is directed at the country itself? There was a whole campaign of these advertising Jesus doing various things in various countries (and parts of Australia) and not one of them made sense. But the real highlight of the night was this little chestnut: (more…)