Brethren is one of my favourite words (but that has nothing to do with Peril, my best books of 2009, Kafka's diary, or an Overland blog guest post)

* This week I went to the launch of Peril, edition 8: ‘why are people so unkind’? It featured readings, and a fun, sexy performance by Ladies of Colour Agency that made me want to get up an shake it, baby. Maxine Clarke, who performed her poetry, gives a very warm of a rundown of the night here. I particularly enjoyed Tom Cho’s presentation where he f**ked with language. Check out the issue online here.

* I was asked by Readings to talk about the best books I read in 2009. Here’s what I said:

‘Some of my favourite reads of 2009 display the variety of books that come under the banner of “Australian fiction”. Steven Amsterdam’s enlightening post-apocalyptic novel-of-stories Things We Didn’t See Coming and Tom Cho’s brilliant, funny and imaginative ride through different types of transformation Look Who’s Morphing were major highlights. I’ve revisited parts of both. Kalinda Ashton’s The Danger Gameis a haunting insight into loss, modern city life, and having political and emotional courage – and I loved the challenging narrator, Patrick Oxtoby, in M.J. Hyland’s This Is How, as well as the book’s existential nature.

‘The best book I read from across the sea was Philipp Meyer’s American Rust, about mistakes and failures, and choices made and violence done on small and large scales, most often quietly. Highly memorable. Other books that definitely will stay with me from 2009 are Nick Cave’s disgustingly compelling The Death of Bunny Munroand Krissy Kneen’s raw and beautiful sexual memoir Affection.’

Check out what other writers, editors, publishers and Readings’ staff had to say, here.

* Some of you may have spotted both myself and the lovely Josephine Rowe in the Melbourne Times and Emerald Hill Weekly this week. Unfortunately it’s not online to link to, but it was a piece about ‘overnight sensations’, and I was chuffed to be interviewed. If you’re visiting the blog because of the article, thanks! Hope you enjoy it – take a look through the archives for reviews, interviews and personalised commentary.

Kafka* I blushed hard at my desk the other day when I saw this blog post – though I was flattered and very touched. That is the first time anyone has dedicated a Kafka passage to me (or called me a ‘blogonaut’ – I like it). By way of reply:

From Kafka’s diary, 8 December, 1917: ‘Sorrow and joy, guilt and innocence, like two hands indissolubly clasped together; one would have to cut through flesh, blood and bones to part them.’

And those are his drawings on the left. I got to see the originals at the Kafka Museum in Prague last year.

* Sorrow and joy, that’s kinda the way I feel when I watch this, too.

* But I got pure joy from this.

* I wrote a guest post for Overland‘s subscriberthon this week on the ‘perfect match’ between book and reader. It begins:

‘I’ve been savouring Richard Yates’ Collected Storiesfor about the past month now, and quite a few times as I’ve been reading, a friend of mine, Ken, has popped into my head. There is the small fact that in the wonderful story ‘A Really Good Jazz Piano’, about male friendship, knowing one’s place, awkwardness, honour, social impressions (and so much more) the character is called Ken. But there are other things about the collection – working in offices, relationships, perceptions of self – things my friend and I have talked about, which made me exclaim to him vehemently the other day that he must read this book. It’s a book I would recommend to others, anyway, but not in the same way. With Ken I feel sure he will get something (a lot) out of it – more than passing entertainment. That ‘something’ is a kind of connection: an affirmation of a recognisable world (even through intertextuality or projection, say, in non-realist fiction – and in all its shades of light and dark) in which one is not alone in their ordinariness, their hope and their suffering.’

Read the rest, here.

* This week has also been one of champagne and new things. But more on those later…

2 thoughts on “Brethren is one of my favourite words (but that has nothing to do with Peril, my best books of 2009, Kafka's diary, or an Overland blog guest post)

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