Wednesday, 13 February 2013

The Catch Up of All Catch Up Posts

Book Review:
I have not been in the mood for reading. Whatever the reason I just cannot get excited about it but I am now starting to turn that around a bit.

I read Popular Penguin's novella The Pigeon by Patrick Suskind and really enjoyed it. The story focuses on Jonathan Noel who has worked as a security guard at a bank for 30 years.  His upbringing was difficult as his father was a senior Nazi officer and there were other men who could really have been his father. His upbringing was extremely unorthodox and not too pleasant as we learn from his memories. His background continues to cause him to display many dysfunctional behaviours as a result.

As the book is such a short one I don't want to ruin any of the story for anyone. The main thrust of the tale though is Jonathan lives in a tiny room in an apartment block that he eventually buys. Everything is in its place and that gives him security. One morning as he leaves his apartment for work there is a pigeon sitting on the floor in the hallway outside his door.

It has fouled the floor which distresses him to no end and it stares at him with its beady eyes.  The next 24 hours and how he spends them, coping with the complete distress of his encounter with this bird covers many memories, fears of mortality, and possible changes in his future. Jonathan thrives on security and sameness and his world goes in circles when he doesn't believe he has the structure he relies upon.

The tale is quirky and I think it was so interesting because it is such a short novella. From memory I think it was 77 pages long.  I cared about this man and wondered what on earth was the problem with meeting up with a pigeon but combined with his memories of childhood and his coping skills it becomes a bit clearer as the story progresses.  I am sure there are people who would not enjoy this book but I am not one of them. I would recommend it.

I'd be quite happy to revisit it again now that I have read it through once.  Patrick Suskind is an interesting writer and I wouldn't mind looking at him in more depth and learning what else he has written.

Library Loot:
I had to go into town today so thought I'd pick up a couple of my books that had come in. They are interesting and hope they will kick start my reading again.  Sally Morgan is an Aboriginal writer who is best known for her wonderful biographical My Place.  If anyone wants to read a good book relating to the removal of Aboriginal children from their parents in order to assimilate them into a white culture this is a good place to start. I didn't know she had written a children's book and as I have five grand nieces/nephews under the age of 6 I am always looking for books for them to send as gifts. The book I picked up today is The Last Dance by Morgan.  The illustrations are beautiful Aboriginal depictions of various animals in the Australian culture however I thought the single sentences on each page are so gloom and doom relating to global warming I don't know if a child who wants to relax with a book at night would enjoy this. I felt depressed reading it. I think most of us know about global warming and although there are some scary situations where some world leaders still do the nay saying routine most children are stronger believers than the adults who share the world with them.

Sample sentences are: Flatback Turtle - beautiful bright purple and yellow images but the turtle is swimming in oil and it simply reads "Coated by slick oil he swims searching for clear ocean."
Turn the page and you have Yellow snouted Gecko in brilliant reds depicting hot flames and trees burning and it states "Across the hot earth she races from the blazing fire".

Maybe find it in the library or have a quick look at it but unless you want to send a child to bed with acute sadness I wouldn't recommend it for bedtime reading. Perhaps save it for a school lesson on this subject so the kids can then go on and do other happier things later in the day before they sleep. However the illustrations (designed) by Luke and Vida Kelly published 2012 are beautiful.

Next book I picked up is You'll Be Sorry  When I'm Dead by Marieke Hardy.  People in Australia either love this woman or hate her. I love her. She's intelligent, unorthodox, loves books, works as a freelance writer and is often on radio interviews. She truly doesn't care what people think of her and this adds to her quirkiness. She is also very well read.  She is a key member of the ABC First  Tuesday Book Group now being called the ABC Book Group which is great fun with much dissension regarding chosen books by  members of the group and their guests. So I am looking forward to dipping into this autobiographical account.
The inside book cover states ".........there is nothing Marieke Hardy won't write about. Welcome to a chronicle of broken hearts, fervid pursuits, passionate friendships, deranged letter-writing, the allure of the bottle, the singular charms of musicians, the lost song of youth, and three very awkward evenings with varying prostitutes- exactly zero percent of which the author's parents will want to read." 

The other book I picked up is Madhur Jaffrey's Ultimate Curry Bible.  I have always enjoyed her writings and first encountered her on an SBS television show quite a few years ago as she wandered through kitchens throughout Asia cooking the most wonderful things I had ever seen.  I have followed her from afar and as I've been in a kitchen reorganisation mood, getting rid of the old and cracked and bringing in the new and fresh as well as revisiting cook books I ordered this.

Looking forward to noting a few good recipes. The third item from the library is a DVD called Agatha Christie: A Life in Pictures.  I saw it, had never heard of it so checked it out.  I have been watching more than a few Hercule Poirot (I believe BBC ) productions on summer television (you know the shows they put on when nothing new is out there yet because it's summer) and loving them.  I had never been a fan of his but something clicked and I really enjoy his character. There is much more to him than I thought.  Agatha Christie on the whole is coming to life for me for the first time ever so this should be interesting.

The other news here and probably the reason for watching a bit too much TV and not reading much is because the fires have been back here again. My other half has been house sitting for good friends of ours for 3 weeks not far from where we live and he has had friends with their dog staying there for a few days after having to evacuate their home of more than 30 years. They had to leave behind their sheep and 30 year old donkey and get out. I find these bush fires very distressing and although they have returned home with their dog and their cat who was staying with me, the fires are still not under control and if the wind goes one way they will return to their area and if the wind goes another direction they will hit the suburb above us on the mountain. We live in the foothills of Mt. Wellington also so could be next in line. In previous years the fires have been known to come through this area and into South Hobart where we are. Temperatures are now cooler for a few days and winds have died down but Sunday and Monday are forecast to bring more hot temperatures again and if the winds flare we will be looking for the embers that precede the fire by up to 3 kms.
So much destruction of habitat, homes and infrastructure is distressing and wearing as these fires have not let up now for weeks. But we all need to be pragmatic, do what we can and just stay safe and help each other.

I did have a good day out Saturday when I attended a large food festival in Launceston in the north of the state. A friend and I went up on a bus. She had originally booked it with another friend who in turn had become very ill and couldn't go so I went in her place.  We had beautiful Tasmanian wine and food and enjoyed ourselves a great deal. Though I find bus journeys, especially on smaller buses quite exhausting. The weather was beautiful, the music very good and the food beautiful. My favourite was he raspberry pana cotta. Stunning with all fresh ingredients from this beautiful food state we have here.
So that catches me up a bit. I have a Classics Club post to put up soon but will do that in a day or two. I had hoped to join in the Les Miserable read along   but can't find the book and I am so sick of hearing about the movie from everyone that I just completely lost the mood. Maybe another time. I'd like to read something I'm not familiar with and the Classics Club plus my Fuller's Book Shop book club will keep me busy in the meantime. We just finished discussing Middlemarch this month which I have talked about previously.

So until the next post I hope everyone is well and enjoying whatever they have on the go at the moment.

Currently reading The 100 Year Old Man Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson. Stay tuned for that one.


  1. I have read every book written by Patrick Suskind. Pam, you must read 'Perfume' by him.

    1. Another good friend of mine told me the same thing. I am now trying to find it. The library only has the German version. My friend may still have it but if not I will look for it on Kindle or Book Depository whichever one is cheaper.

  2. Good to see you posting again! I think quite a few of us have been in a reading or a blogging slump, or both.

    I've only read Perfume by Patrick Suskind. It was an engrossing read but also a little disturbing.

    1. My friend also told me Perfume is disturbing but I like the style of this writer (from my one experience so far) so will chase it up. Thanks for the encouragement too. I hate book slumps but I tend to get them a couple of times a year. I can't imagine you EVER being in a slump. You're a super woman when it comes to books! Lovely to hear from you.

  3. Am definitely looking forward to what you have to say about the Jonas Jonasson! Sounds like a really fun one. :)

  4. I am taking too long to read it. I pick it up, get into it then get side tracked by something else. Some days am enjoying it, others it gets on my nerves. Need to finish it off in one big swoop then will review it. Shouldn't be long. (My library books on hold keep coming in!) thanks for your comment,Pam


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