Tuesday, November 24, 2009
spotlight on my favourites: nick earls
after january (UQP)
this is my no.1 favourite. probably up there on my Favourite Books Of All Time, if i'm honest. it's the story of alex and the long wait over summer before he finds out if he's got into university. alex is not good at waiting, so it's days of trying to relax, reading and bodysurfing. and then he meets a girl, a girl unlike any others he's known.
what i love about after january is the quiet way in which it's written. it's practically poetry, the way the words go. alex's voice is so clear and beautiful, the changes in him over the "three unlikely january weeks." plus, it's hilariously funny as well. every character is so real, they could be friends, or neighbours (or christian plumbers) that i have known myself.
48 shades of brown (penguin)
this one is how i wanted my final year of school to go. imagine being left in the care of your uber-cool, 22-year-old, bass-playing aunt - jacq - and her vague and lovely housemate naomi. dan is 17, his parents are overseas, and this is his life. of course he instantly falls in love with the "flaxen-haired beauty" naomi which just further complicates his life (he thinks) as he tries to wrangle maths (the attention and affection he has for calculus made me hate maths methods just that little bit less), english (specifically the fish tank scene in romeo and juliet) and his insane friend chris burns (with the pustular face and large ego). and pesto. and folk art. and tin tin.
you should see me right now, just writing about this book i am in hysterics at my desk - literally bahahahhahahahhaha laughing out loud.
the party scene in particular is golden.
world of chickens (viking)
less like my ideal university experience, world of chickens is more like my uni actually was. though i don't think i was quite as unfortunate as phil, at least i hope not. phil and his best mate frank are med students who work part time at the burger joint world of chickens. they are employed by the enthusiastic ron (who warms straight away to phil) and they work alongside ron's daughter sophie (phil warms to her straight away). even though he's studying to be a doctor, phil dreams of being a filmmaker. the characters and friendships in this book are touching and wonderful.
if this was a movie it would be one of those to send my dad running out of the room with his fingers in his ears going "ooh ooh ooh" because he's so uncomfortable. phil is always getting into sticky situations, just can't seem to catch a break. it's hilarious.
plus it's set in the 80s. and phil's parents are a riot.
headgames (penguin, now very sadly out of print)
this is a collection of short stories which includes tales and adventures, an early version of frank and phil, the weird but delightful story 'the goatflap brothers and the house of names', which was made into a short film in 2003. headgames is bizarre and funny and sometimes heartwrenching. 'all those ways of leaving' is a story that's stuck with me. the lines:
"this is so strange. you seem to have taken it for granted that you would die between novels, not during one." the idea of an autopsy, of malignant intestine filled with a long coil of golden hair.
the true story of butterfish (penguin)
this, the latest book from nick earls, is a winner. the main character, curtis, is back in australia after his hugely successful band butterfish released their third album and it tanked completely. on top of that his marriage has busted up - LA is not the place for him anymore. now living in the outer suburbs of brisbane, curtis is trying to reconnect with his brother patrick, is working on an album for a norweigan band trying to break into a wider market and he's occasionally dabbling in some songs for himself. however, his new neighbours - the almost-woman annaliese, her emo-goth brother mark and their harried but friendly single mother kate - make curtis' "normal" life just that little bit more interesting.
we were very lucky to have nick earls come to my work for the melbourne launch of butterfish and we were very sorry that the harry potter fans were so noisy. also sorry for making you stand in front of bruno:
and i've read and enjoyed all of nick's other books. you should read them too!
making laws for clouds
the thompson gunner
joel and cat set the story straight
nick earls lives here: www.nickearls.com