Friday, February 26, 2010

mmmmm i like your craft

beautiful future - m. craft

we spent so long in secondhand stores we forgot there was anything new
we wrote our lives-on dog eared pages they're aged and yellowed through
just today in the amazon jungle, a helicopter spotted a tribe
all painted red and shooting arrows at the sun they didn't know about the world outside

but what's that?
i see out on the horizon
a glimmering, shimmering light
it's calling everything onward
is that the beautiful future?

this is something i just cannot stop listening to. i saw martin craft live for my friend's bday recently and fell in love with him. errr...i mean his music. but the thing is, writing the lyrics down here doesn't do them justice, it kinda highlights the pollyanna-emo (is this possible?) tinge to his stuff. but listen to it - his timing and melodies and phrasing are fantastic. so is his beard. and lankiness.

this song is the first one on his new cd arrows at the sun, which also has some other top songs - my faves being mexico and young and in love.

oh! and i've just transcribed from what i heard on the cd, so forgive me if lyrics are slightly wrong. i'm the girl who honestly thought that the travelling wilburys were singing 'and a mi mi aware' (rather than 'handle me with care') for a good ten years.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

new places to find coffee and books

i've recently come into contact with a lot of people who read a lot of different books, and we all gather in somewhat sterile rooms to talk about it, and to create our own words and stories. we often talk until lateish in the evening so i need fortification...

i bought coffee yesterday from soul soup cafe on cardigan street. since it was tight arse tuesday it only cost me $2. i almost fell over in shock. the guy who served me was charming and friendly and my coffee was delicious. i have to admit that i wasn't sure it would be when he just slopped the milk into the cup - but there i go, confusing fancy pouring with ...err...good coffee??

anyway, i had made myself the somewhat ridiculous promise not to buy books this year but instead read all those on my shelf that have been left unopened (among these: mrs dalloway by virginia woolf, sons and lovers by d h lawrence, war and peace AND anna karenina by leo tolstoy and countless more) but already i am itching to read everything that has been suggested to me. maybe this year i will have to get over my dislike of libraries. it's really not so bad, i guess, not having the book to own for one's self.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

reading madness!

i'm doing it again - have so many books on the go that i just can't put down:

the returners by gemma malley

i loved the declaration and the resistance and i'm roughly a quarter of the way into this, her third gripping offering. not part of the other series (which will come to its conclusion in september of this year, hopefully in australia at the same time as the UK) it is just as fascinating and i can't wait to see what she is on about. where i am up to is the moment where the shit is about to hit the proverbial fan and i'm going to become privvy to the secret - what is going on with the weird people, why will is having excruciating pain and frightening visions.

sugar sugar by carole wilkinson

the ubiquitous wilkinson (mother of the excellent lili) has written this book about a young australian girl who is travelling to paris to show her designs to a major fashion designer. the blurb tells us that her plans are sent "spinning off-course." perfect! i've read ooh roughly one chapter and already i am gripped and enthralled. unsurprisingly, given that i love travel, i love paris and i love girl-travelling-to-paris-stories and recently i have decided that fashion is pretty damn interesting. something to do with a girl i know who has just designed shoes for dior while living in paris, perhaps (hate her hate her!).

franny and zooey, j d salinger

just in memorium, i decided to read through salinger's stuff that i've missed thus far. in a letter that franny writes to her boyfriend about a page into the book i felt such a strong connection with her - identified with her voice and expression. this has sent me in a spiral of wonderment. franny says:
"it's too bad about not being able to get me in croft house and i don't actually care where i stay as long as it's warm and no bugs and i see you occasionally , i.e. every single minute. i've been going i.e. crazy lately."
doesn't she sound swell?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

a bookshop job

i love my job, love working with books and getting to meet customers and talk about books - especially working in the children's shop because kids are always REALLY EXCITED when there's a new book in their favourite series and aren't afraid to show it.

however, i'm not the most patient person in the world and working in retail really really grates sometimes. for example, it's taken A LOT of self-restraint today when i've offered to gift wrap a book for a customer to not scream in their face when they ask: "can you take the price off?" and i know...i know...on principle it's a totally fair question, but when it happens thirty or forty times a day i want to yell WHY WOULD I LEAVE THE PRICE ON, YOU A-HOLE or at the very least respond with a resounding DERRR!!!

and don't get me started on parents with prams (particularly GIANT PRAMS)
or unattended children
or sticky fingers
or coffee spills
or stinky nappies
or twilight fans
or stupid questions (though my friend m takes the cake on this: someone came into her bookshop, looked around then asked "do you sell trumpets?" derr!)

but then sometimes it only five minutes i remember why i love being here: i get a reading copy of the new john green/joanne horniman/patrick ness (can't wait til may!) ; the girls from teen bookclub make my sides ache with laughing as they talk w/o breath about talking pigs, hamish and andy, you tube and occasionally the book itself ; a customer comes in especially to tell me that the book i recommended was a big hit ; jenny comes in and says "where the hell have you been?" like i'm an important bit o' furniture here.

...aaaaand...cut. enough. mi scusi.

Monday, February 8, 2010

spotlight on my favourites: john green

he's an author, a nerdfighter, the most hilarious video-blogger (i believe vlog is an expression...whatevs) and just a little bit hunky. and he's written some of the best YA books around.

looking for alaska

this was an instant hit with me when i first read it, and re-reading it recently just confirmed my original reaction: smart, funny, moving and (dare i say it?) necessary. here's a book with a loveable hipster doofus main character in miles (aka pudge) who has a pretty serious interest in knowing people's last words. and a cast of characters i wish i had invented (or i wish had been my friends in high school), including the beautiful and fiesty alaska. these kids are awkward (well, miles is) but they are also intelligent, philosophical and wickedly mischievious. split into two sections "before" and "after" you know that something horrible is going to happen, and the "after" section is impeccable and heart-wrenching.

looking for alaska won the 2006 michael l printz award from the american library association and there was the whole hooha about a tiny blow job scene that apparently is going to damage young minds.

an abundance of katherines

i bought this when i was in new york, as at the time it wasn't available in australia. i read it on the flight to san francisco, and it was everything i had hoped. honestly, i thought it would be hard to follow up a book like alaska, but i was happily mistaken.
the main character is colin, a washed-up child prodigy. soon after the book starts, we find colin lying face down in the carpet after vomiting his guts up, just graduated from high school, just been dumped by his girlfriend katherine. remarkable particularly because this is the nineteenth time he has been dumped by a girl called katherine. determined not to let colin be pathetic all summer, his best friend hassan decides that it is road trip time. (i love a book about road trips) a sign promising to show the boys the final resting place of the archduke ferdinand (?!? i know!) leads them to gutshot, tennessee: they meet lindsay (of the beautiful smile), her mother hollis (rich and eccentric) and her friends (colin does not take kindly to lindsay's boyfriend TOC - the other colin). roped into working for hollis, colin spends his spare time drafting his eureka moment! mathematical theorem to predict how every relationship will go.
again, brilliant character and incredible dialogue, including one scene between colin and lindsay that genuinely upset me, in a really amazing way.
paper towns

margo roth speigleman lives across the road from our main character quentin (Q) and since they were kids he has always been just a little bit in love with her. now seniors in high school, the two are hardly what you would call friends. but one night margo comes through Q's bedroom window dressed like a ninja and coaxes Q into a long, crazy night of revenge, adventure of hi-jinks (which may or may not include breaking into sea world, shoving dead fish under an enemy's car seat and removing the eyebrow of a jerk jock). the next day margo has disappeared. Q is determined to solve the clues she's left behind, to find her. again, a brilliant support cast, including a shitload of black santas.

paper towns won the 2009 edgar award for best young adult novel.
will grayson, will grayson

two guys, same name. this novel was written in tandem with david levithan (editorial director at scholastic books in the usa and author of nick and norah's infinite playlist, among many others) and each author created a persona for each will grayson. john's will is unwillingly thrust into the public eye at school by his best friend tiny: a larger-than-life, musical-loving, football-playing gay guy. a nerd-chic girl called jane just might have her sights on will, but he is really really not sure. one night, abandoned by his friends after a fake ID debacle will finds himself in a porn shop where he meets the other will grayson, who was there hoping to meet an internet boyfriend. their stories and lives thus intertwined the book continues: funny, endearing, romantic with great friendships and a brilliant big gay musical. fab.
john lives here : http://www.sparksflyup.com/

Thursday, February 4, 2010

the looking for alibrandi syndrome

as far as ailments go, this is absolutely the best one to have. there are a number of YA books that i diagnose as having the LFAS and it does not mean that these books are any less important, any less well-written or deserving of praise. all i mean is that if you liked looking for alibrandi by melina marchetta, you'll like these two books i read recently:

finding freia lockhart
by aimee said


freia is your average sort of girl - lives with her fairly strict parents and her slightly annoying little brother, has a best friend in kate and wants to be popular and to do well at school. but freia doesn't take to the Bs (that's belinda, bethanee and brianna) easily - 'how much fake tan, lip gloss and boy talk can (she) stand?' freia is pushed into being involved in the school play first by the girls and then - surprisingly - by her parents. but because she can't sing, her role is relegated to lighting, where she's stuck with the kind of freaky daniel (rumours are he's a druggie). i loved the way that the things freia thought her parents expected of her wasn't necessarily what they had intended, showing the common miscommunications between parent and child. said has created some nice characters, they felt very human. there was good dialogue and some funny, as well as some more heartfelt, scenes. and while i knew where the story was going from pretty much the start, i really enjoyed the tale.

dancing in the dark by robyn bavati

i was immediately fascinated by this book - i am drawn to stories of young people brought up in extreme religious sects (though am not sure what this says about me) and this is the first i've read about haredi judaism. ditty (full name: yehudit) is twelve and her family are part of the tight-knit, ultra-orthodox jewish community in melbourne. she is not allowed to watch television, read secular newspapers or attend a secular (or even modern orthodox) school. one afternoon sara, ditty's best friend, reveals that her mother has a secret television hidden in her bedroom. curious, the girls watch. it becomes a guilty pleasure and one day they catch a preview for a ballet. entranced, ditty begins to dream of being a dancer; and although her parents fiercely disapprove, she begins to take lessons, paying for them with babysitting money and some help from her freewheeling cousin linda. and she is very good. and as she disobeys her family more and more, ditty begins to question their way of life. i won't go any further at the risk of giving the plot away. bavati did a great job at maintaining the suspense - i couldn't see how ditty would get away with it. she also managed to explore this young girl's quavering faith without being heavy-handed or didactic. exceeds expectations - don't judge this book by its cover.