Monthly Archives: November 2011

Which Writer Wrote

Shooting stars possess a certain grandeur for me, an almost religious significance.  I see them as symbols of a pure and nervous beauty, devoid of torment, nervous in the way of any vivid thing.  Even their names hum with the energy of other worlds – the Delta Aquarids, the Lyrids, the Orionids.  All that splendour , and such power.  

Check in on Sunday for the answer

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2011 Redlitzer Anthology: Book Review

Last week, I posted the first half of my Redlitzer Anthology review.  Here are my thoughts on the final five stories.

The Swallows of Wellington Point by JA HENRY
Some writers use gritty reality as their base (Christos Tsiolkas comes to mind).  Conversely, JA Henry employs a style here that would best be described as gritty unreality. Nick-names and bogus games; car chases and law breakers; birds and bats.  What a delightfully unusual story.  The characters’ names are wickedly derivative in a modern-day Dickensian kind of way (Canon the human copier, Dreamon and Mangrove) and descriptions are evocative, yet precise: a bird in ‘mating plumage [that] could have stepped off the back of a silk kimono’ and ‘the sea is old silver, dead calm’.

Marathon Woman by MAREE REEDMAN
Maree Reedman is the only one of the writers known to me (we once attended a Queensland Writers Workshop together) and she is the reason I sought out this anthology.

Marathon Woman is I think best described as a ‘Memoir Fragment’, in which Reedman’s unique voice rings true.

The scariest movie for me was not Terminator or Alien or even Nightmare on Elm Street.  Please!  Freddy Kruger with his bad manicure and Clinque-free skin didn’t even come close to cutting it. 

Marathon Woman reflects on fear; on the horror that can be created by dental equipment in the wrong hands.

Reedman is one of those writers who can capture a voice perfectly – yes, even her own.  As an adult she has not forgotten the dog-year-length of the years in a child’s life.  As a tween ‘before the word tweens had been invented’ her ‘gob problems’ continued with the advent of one Miss Swan with her ‘steel coloured scouring pad hair’ and her ‘bench of horrors’.

Miss Swan is followed by Doctor Chin, another voice captured perfectly and, finally – mercifully – the kindly Brian who understands the power of touch.  The author’s relief is evident in discovering ‘what Santa did for the rest of the year.’

Marathon Woman is both  funny and frightening a-la Stephen King.  It’s a well-crafted story and Reedman is clearly a writer to look out for.

The Journey by MAIRE SHANAHAN
In what is perhaps the shortest story in the book, Shanahan takes us on a train journey; at the same time unfurling one of life’s big (and arduous) journeys.  The narrator has survived the loss of his wife.  Thankfully, the loss of his daughter’s presence is not permanent.  Sad without being morbid and, ultimately, hopeful.

 Acceptance by MARGARET SHIELDS
A tricky tale, this one and I wouldn’t want to spoil it by revealing too much.  Suffice to say that some readers will sympathise with the narrator and may form hasty judgements about her partner.  As in life though, there are usually two sides to a story. 

 Dead End by LINDA UPTON
A murder mystery set in a museum on a fund-raiser evening, the tone is set by the curator/narrator who has the hard-boiled edge of a film noir detective.  ‘Like plaster ducks flying across a wall, we were going nowhere with donations this evening.’

Suspense is difficult to pull off in just eight pages or so, but Linda Upton manages to do it with this little ‘who dunnit’ and she resists the urge to present the proverbial ‘knight in shining armour’ at the denouement.  Nice work.

I look forward to next year’s anthology.

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WHICH WRITER WROTE Answer

I think this is the first time that no-one picked the correct answer. 
33% went for Mick Jagger and 67% for Carly Simon.

Take the dawn of the day
And give it away
To someone who can fill the part
Of the dream we once held

The lyrics are from the song ‘So Sad’, featured on the album Dark Horse and were penned by none other than Mr George Harrison.  The song was recorded in 1974, just after the disintegration of his marriage to Patty Boyd.  George, whose bushell was often shaded by the prolific and public branches of both John Lennon and Paul McCartney, died in 2001 as a result of lung cancer.

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WHICH WRITER WROTE

We’ve had poetry and fiction.  Now, this week’s WWW features song lyrics.

Take the dawn of the day
And give it away
To someone who can fill the part
Of the dream we once held

Have a guess and check in on Sunday for the Answer

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2011 Redlitzer Anthology: Book Review

As readers of this blog would be aware, I am a huge fan of the short story and I wish we had more published in Australia.  In these days of shorter attention spans and media bombardment, there is a need that could be filled perfectly by anthologies and collections of shorts.  

I managed to get my hands on a copy of the 2011 Redlitzer Anthology by being persistent but it seems they are as scarce as hen’s teeth.  The anthology is the result of a competition run by the Redland Libraries for emerging unpublished writers, and the Redland City Council is to be commended for its support for such a worthwhile endeavour.

I took it upon myself to review the collection (who knows…it could harbour the next Elizabeth Jolley or Patrick White ) and here are my thoughts on five of the ten works, in order of their publication within the anthology:-

Sticks and Stones by Beverley Asmus.
In our school years, most of us would have known a boy or a girl who we might have referred to as being ‘not quite right’  and I’ve read a couple of stories centred around such characters but what sets this piece apart is Asmus’s ability to get inside the character’s  head.  Daniel – who sees and understands his world in purely literal terms – wonders why rust tastes horrible, yet mandarins (which are the same orange colour) are sweet and juicy.  Trouble comes when Daniel is compelled to stop some boys from smoking (because as both the packet and his mother inform him ‘people got cancer from smoking’).

Heartburn by Danielle Carey
Jeremy is a girl-shy church-going writer, feeling more awkward than usual in a new city.  When he meets a rather strange and forward girl by the name of Lou, he projects his ideal female onto her and through a strange sort of osmosis, she reflects what he so desires.

Friends and Lovers by Trish Cation
A murder mystery vignette that might make you think twice before accepting a glass of champagne at a work party.  Renee is an evil piece of work: ‘Money and men – success and sex.  Put it any way you like, they were the two things that mattered most to her…’  Renee’s foil?  the fool…‘sweet little Lauren’. 

The Heart of the Matter: a memoir by Marci Dahlenburg
I really enjoyed this memoir piece, a kind of ‘sliding doors’ snippet about what might have been.  The author takes us with her as her status as a new mother is thrown into turmoil.  She becomes ‘lost in the labyrinth’ that is the hospital as she makes her way to the Paediatric Cardiology rooms to discuss how her daughter who ‘just this morning [had been] perfect’ was now less so.

How do you say it?  Is Down Syndrome? Has Down Syndrome? It was the first time I’d said it.  I didn’t even know how to say it properly.

While the nurse is ‘effervescent’, the baby is ‘floppy’ and the new mother is clamping one hand on top of the other trying to claw her ‘way back to reality’.  My heart ached for her.

Instead of stepping blithely from the shower, grief laid me low.  I was curled foetal on the tiles, screaming a mute prayer into the drain with tears and soap mingling.

The Heart of the Matter packs a devastatingly powerful punch and I hung on every word.

Always by Janice Gallen
I am a fan of one-word titles and this one  immediately conjured a love story. The song of the same name played in my head as I began to read, the structure of the sentences seeming to fit the cadence perfectly.  And yes, it is a love story in a very true sense.  On the day of her beloved husband’s birthday, an elderly woman allows the sands of time to shift as she reminisces about the period before the war when she met the one and only love of her life.  She tries to ignore the portentous pecking of a magpie at the window and shrugs off the tightness in her chest as she remembers the passionate letters they once shared and the unbreakable bonds they forged throughout their married life. 

 She was beside her darling, her lover, her soul mate, and since she’d met him, she hadn’t wanted to be anywhere else, either in life or death. 

 I loved the honesty of this piece.  It pretends nothing:  it is – quite simply – a love story.

In a forthcoming post, I will review the final five stories.  In the meantime, if you’d like to nab yourself a copy of the 2011 Redlitzer Anthology, try contacting Redland Libraries.

BOOK DETAIL:
2011 Redlitzer Anthology, Edited by MK Hume. Redland Libraries, Redland City Council, Aust.
ISBN: 978-0-646-56337-4

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WHICH WRITER WROTE Answer

The answer to this week’s WWW is Gig Ryan.

Women are full of compassion and have soft soggy hearts
you can throw up in and no-one’ll notice
and they won’t complain.  I’d shoot the man
who thinks he can look like an excavation-site
but you can’t, who thinks what you look like’s for him
to appraise, to sit back, to talk his intelligent way.

 The quote comes from ‘If I had a Gun’, a poem with capital A Attitude in both subject matter and in poetic form.  It’s tone is defiant and hostile and the colloquial language gives it a modern popular edge, emphasised by the odd swear word.

Gig Ryan is an award winning Melbourne poet,   She was given the name Elizabeth when she was born in 1956 and I’d love to know when and why she changed her name to Gig. Can anyone enlighten me?

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WHICH WRITER WROTE

This week’s WWW features a poet.

Women are full of compassion and have soft soggy hearts
you can throw up in and no-one’ll notice
and they won’t complain.  I’d shoot the man
who thinks he can look like an excavation-site
but you can’t, who thinks what you look like’s for him
to appraise, to sit back, to talk his intelligent way.

Have a guess and visit this site on Sunday for the answer.

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