Bellingen Readers and Writers Festival 2012 special: The Sea Bed by Marele Day

In the lead-up to the Bellingen Readers and Writers Festival, I'll be putting up a series of (short) reviews of books I'm reading in preparation. The Sea Bed, Marele Day Allen & Unwin, 2009 9781741758412 (paperback, ebook) The Sea Bed is set around an island with a tradition of ‘sea women’, who, for generations, have dived, … Continue reading Bellingen Readers and Writers Festival 2012 special: The Sea Bed by Marele Day

Etymology Monday: David Crystal on the word ‘unfriend’

Unfriend a new age (21st century) by David Crystal In 2009 the New Oxford American Dictionary chose unfriend as its Word of the Year. It meant ‘to remove someone from a list of contacts on a social networking site such as Facebook’. A minor controversy followed. Some argued that the verb should be defriend. But the use of un- was … Continue reading Etymology Monday: David Crystal on the word ‘unfriend’

Etymology Monday: David Crystal on the word ‘OK’

OK debatable origins (19th century) by David Crystal The little word OK has a linguistic reputation that belies its size. Over a thousand words in English have an etymology which, in the words of the Oxford English Dictionary, is ‘origin unknown’. Nobody knows where bloke comes from, or condom, gimmick, nifty, pimp, pooch, queasy, rogue or skiffle. Theories abound, of … Continue reading Etymology Monday: David Crystal on the word ‘OK’

Etymology Monday: David Crystal on the word ‘gaggle’

Gaggle a collective noun (15th century) by David Crystal I think it went something like this. A group of monks, wondering how to pass the time on a cold, dark winter’s evening in the 15th century, invent a word game. ‘Let’s think up words for groups of things’, says one. ‘What do we call a group of cows?’ ‘A … Continue reading Etymology Monday: David Crystal on the word ‘gaggle’

Etymology Monday: David Crystal on the word ‘bodgery’

Bodgery word-coiners (16th century) by David Crystal The history of English contains thousands of words that never made it – coinages invented by individual writers that simply didn’t catch on. There is just a single instance of bodgery recorded in the Oxford English Dictionary. It is from the playwright Thomas Nashe, who used it in 1599. It means ‘bungling, botched work’. … Continue reading Etymology Monday: David Crystal on the word ‘bodgery’

Etymology Monday: David Crystal on the word ‘mead’

Mead a window into history (9th century) by David Crystal Today we think of mead as a rather exotic alcoholic drink, made by fermenting a mixture of honey and water. In early history it was the alcoholic beverage of choice throughout ancient Europe, Asia and Africa. Some think it was the first fermented drink. It makes frequent appearances in the … Continue reading Etymology Monday: David Crystal on the word ‘mead’

Between worlds: Dominic Smith on Bright and Distant Shores

  Allen & Unwin, 9781742374161, 2011 (Aus paperback, ebook + US/Kindle) Bright and Distant Shores is hugely imaginative historical fiction. It’s set just before the dawn of the 20th century in Chicago and the South Pacific. Owen Graves is sent by Hale Gray, the president of Chicago First Equitable, to collect some ‘special items’ to … Continue reading Between worlds: Dominic Smith on Bright and Distant Shores

Win James Franco’s Palo Alto with Faber Academy

Beginning the blogging year with a giveaway is always a good idea! This week you can win a copy of actor James Franco's upcoming short story collection Palo Alto, courtesy of Faber Academy and Allen & Unwin. What is Faber Academy? The Academy began in London when Faber offered creative writing courses out of their … Continue reading Win James Franco’s Palo Alto with Faber Academy

Investing in rainbows: Lisa Lang’s Utopian Man

Utopian Man Lisa Lang Allen & Unwin 9781742373348 2010 (Australia) Edward Cole was the forward-thinking, optimistic and eccentric founder of Cole’s Book Arcade – a utopian hive of 1880’s Melbourne. In the Arcade was stacked all manner of books (which were able to be perused on in-store lounges), pamphlets (including challenging, self-published explorations by Cole), and eventually, … Continue reading Investing in rainbows: Lisa Lang’s Utopian Man

Guest review: Matthia Dempsey on Patti Smith’s Just Kids

Bloomsbury/Allen & Unwin February 2010 9780747548409 (Aus, US/Kindle) Reviewed by Matthia Dempsey Emerging from their teens, Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe first encounter each other in 1960s New York, a recognition as much as a meeting. Smith has fled the aftermath of an unplanned pregnancy and adoption, and the factory future that faces her in … Continue reading Guest review: Matthia Dempsey on Patti Smith’s Just Kids