The lovely Felicity Young, author of the historical detective fiction series featuring Dr Dody McCleland (A Dissection of Murder and Antidote to Murder), has tagged me in this latest books-and-authors questionnaire (the ‘rules’ are pasted at the end of the post). You can read Felicity’s answers here.
What are you reading right now?
Traitor by Stephen Daisley, which won the 2011 Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Fiction and a slew of other awards, and I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to get to this brilliant novel. I’m also dipping into Paul Hetherington’s beautiful new poetry collection, Six Different Windows.
Do you have any idea what you’ll read when your done with that?
There’s a pile. Isn’t there always? Towards the top are The Fine Colour of Rust by P. A. O’Reilly, Shore and Shelter by Keith McLeod and Canada by Richard Ford.
What 5 books have you always wanted to read but haven’t got round to?
Poor Fellow My Country by Xavier Herbert (when I have a spare month)
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
Carpentaria by Alexis Wright
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
The Watchtower by Elizabeth Harrower
What magazines do you have in your bathroom/lounge right now?
I don’t read magazines, but the West’s TV guide is usually on the coffee table and a couple of issues of Australian Book Review are there too.
What’s the worst book you’ve ever read?
I read something awful by Jackie Collins many years ago. It was like paint-by-numbers but with words.
What book seemed really popular but you didn’t like?
A Visit by the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
What’s the one book you always recommend to just about everyone?
Perfume by Patrick Süskind. (Recommending books is always risky: one friend threw Perfume back at me with the comment ‘You’re a strange woman, Amanda Curtin.’)
What are your three favourite poems?
Too hard. Three that spring to mind:
‘The Lady of Shallott’ by Alfred Lord Tennyson
‘Diving into the Wreck’ by Adrienne Rich
‘The Lighthouse Keeper’s Wife’ by Barbara Temperton
Where do you usually get your books?
Independent bookshops, usually. My ‘local’ is Beaufort Street Books. If I need something out of print or difficult to find, I’ll buy online, and because I do have a Kindle for travelling, I have to buy some from Amazon.
Where do you usually read your books?
Never in bed. Usually on the sofa in our family room. But I take my current book with me wherever I go in case I have a few spare minutes—for example, while waiting for the physio.
When you were little, did you have any particular reading habits?
I remember reading while lying on the floor with my legs on the sofa or over my head, almost upside down. (Hence the physio.)
What’s the last thing you stayed up half the night reading because it was so good you couldn’t put it down?
I’ve read some brilliant novels this year, but some that I’ve loved the most I’ve wanted to savour rather than consume avidly. One that did have that compulsive effect on me was Courtney Collins’s The Burial (my review is here).
Have you ever ‘faked’ reading a book?
No, but there were several lit theory books I read at uni that I might as well have faked, for all that I understood them.
Have you ever bought a book just because you liked the cover?
No. But in a bookshop I know I am more likely to pick up a book with a human figure on the cover than something abstract.
What book changed your life?
I did a blog post on this not so long ago, so I’m going to cheat and just give the link.
What is your favourite passage from a book?
I can’t choose between these two:
For…if a bird with a broken neck could fly away, what else might be possible? Water may be older than light, diamonds crack in hot goat’s blood, mountaintops give off cold fire, forests appear in mid-ocean, it may happen that a crab is caught with the shadow of a hand on its back, that the wind be imprisoned in a bit of knotted string. And it may be that love sometimes occurs without pain or misery.
—Annie Proulx, The Shipping News
Truly, he thinks, for all our desires and ambitions, lives mapped out, pledges made, in the end we live from day to day, as fragile as twigs, needing to be loved, urged on by hope and acts of kindness.
—Robyn Mundy, The Nature of Ice
Who are your top five favourite authors?
Only five? Aarrgghh! Gail Jones, Anne Michaels, Simone Lazaroo, Annie Proulx, Michael Cunningham…
What book has no one heard about but should read?
It isn’t true to say no one’s heard about it, as it won several awards, but I don’t think enough people have read Simone Lazaroo’s superb The Travel Writer.
What 3 books are you an ‘evangelist’ for?
Tirra Lirra by the River by Jessica Anderson
Sixty Lights by Gail Jones
Letters to the End of Love by Yvette Walker
Whisky Charlie Foxtrot by Annabel Smith
(Numerically challenged, I know.)
What are your favourite books by a first-time author?
Books by friends whose journeys to publication I have followed, cheering all the way:
The Nature of Ice by Robyn Mundy
The Alphabet of Light and Dark by Danielle Wood
A New Map of the Universe by Annabel Smith
Finding Jasper by Lynne Leonhardt
Arrhythmia by Richard Rossiter
The Albanian by Donna Mazza
What is your favourite classic book?
The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Five other notable mentions?
The Winter Vault by Anne Michaels
The Last Sky by Alice Nelson
An Unknown Sky by Susan Midalia
Incendiary by Chris Cleave
Bereft by Chris Womersley
The Hours by Michael Cunningham
Unless by Carol Shields
1. Post these rules
2. Post a photo of your favourite book cover [see two of my favourites below]
3. Answer the questions above
4. Tag a few people to answer them too
5. Go to their blog/twitter and tell them you’ve tagged them
6. Make sure you tell the person who tagged you that you’ve taken part!
I’m tagging Lynne Leonhardt, Dianne Touchell and Natasha Lester (without obligation, of course!)—but everyone’s free to join in, so please don’t wait to be tagged.