Thursday, October 1, 2009

A stifling review

Tim Winton's Breath

**spoiler alert**

Is just like Lockie Leonard, Human Torpedo, but with Michael Hutchence swinging from a wardrobe door in the background.
No, not really an addition I would have made either.


  1. It's been sitting on my shelf waiting for me to read it for a while now. Maybe your review will suffice for a few more months!

  2. I considered ranting on about how it's essentially the same book he writes over and over and about how it's all baby-boomer seachange nostalgia porn (a book about surfing, set in the 70s, in a small coastal town? It's like a bloody touchstone for everything boomers reckon is awesome about their own childhoods and stuffed about the current way of things - give me a break)

    ... but I figured I could do that in the comments sections instead ...

  3. I was reluctant to read Breath when a surfie friend hated it vociferously. Having read your excellent review, I am no longer reluctant, but relieved of any desire whatsoever. But isn't he too young to be a boomer?

  4. Jono - Actually the only good bits are the surfing bits. But again, Lockie Leonard had surfing.
    And so does Waves Magazine.
    I actually just finished reading it in my lunch break and it really is a big old fart in the face.

    "Troubled man remembers troubled childhood, draws metaphor"
    BIG whoop.

  5. I like Lockie Leonard Human Torpedo, and the sequel Scumbuster, and also Legend. I did like another of Mr Winton's books I think Dirt Music, can't remember. It was good but didn't inspire me to read more of his work... But now with the word porn having been used, it interests me... hmm.

  6. My surfie friend hated Breath precisely because he considered he'd read better surfing prose in Tracks magazine, where no one bothered to call it literature.

  7. Shippy - I agree that all the LLs were good. Which is probably why his other books are readable - but they don't read as anything more exciting or inciteful (or even insightful). Just the same stuff with slightly older characters

    When Dirt Music came out I was doing my creative writing degrees and I reckon I received about three separate copies from well-wishers and birthday givers. I thought that book was just another iteration of "living in a seaside WA town is just so MEANINGFUL, man".

    The next book you will read is called Vernon God Little. Trust me.

    Cricket on Sunday?

    Jono - Your surfie friend makes an excellent point. In Breath, you can tell Winton surfs, but the research sticks out like the very bombora he describes.
    (I had to look up bombora too.)

  8. "a nautical themed pashmina afghan"? What the heck does one of those look like? an afghan is a crocheted granny squares knee rug, a pashmina is a lovely shawl/scarf combination. Neither of these should be nautically themed, surely.

  9. River - Perhaps a visit to guugle is in order ...


An explanation of The Joy Division Litmus Test

Although it may now be lost in the mysts of thyme, the poll below is still relevant to this blog. In the winter of 2008, Mele and I went to live in Queensland. In order to survive, I bluffed my way into a job at a Coffee Club.
It was quite a reasonable place to work: the hours were regular, the staff were quite nice, it wasn't particularly taxing on my brain.
There were a few downsides: In the six weeks or so that I worked there, there was about a 90% staff turnover (contributed to by my leaving). This wasn't seen as a result of the low pay, the laughability of staff prices or the practice of not distributing tips to staff, rather it was blamed on the lack of work ethic among Bribie Island's youth.
However, one of the stranger aspects of the cultural isolation that touched our lives during our time "up there" was the fact that nobody at my work had heard of the band Joy Division.
The full explanation is available here.
But please, interact a little further and vote in my ongoing poll. The results are slowly mounting up, proving one thing: people read this blog are more well-informed about Joy Division than anyone who works at the Coffee Club on Bribie Island.

Have you heard of the band Joy Division?

Chinese food, not Chinese Internet!

Champions of Guess The Header

  • What is Guess The Header about? Let’s ask regular “Writing” reader, Shippy: "Anyway, after Franzy's stunning September, and having a crack at 'Guess The Header' for the first time - without truly knowing what I was doing mind you - I think I finally understand what 'GTH' is all about. At first I thought you needed to actually know what it was. Don't get me wrong — if you know what it is, it may help you. I now realise that it's more Franzy's way of invoking thought around an image or, more often than not, part of an image. If you dissect slightly the GTH explanatory sentence at the bottom of his blog you come up with this: “The photo is always taken by me and always connects in some way to the topic of the blog entry it heads up.” When the header is put up, the blog below it will in some obscure way have something to do with it. “Interesting comments are judged and scored arbitrarily and the process is open to corruption and bribery with all correspondence being entered into after the fact and on into eternity, ad infinitum amen.” Franzy judges it, but it's not always the GTH that describes the place perfectly that gets it. “The frequent commenters, the wits, the wags and the outright smartarses who, each entry, engage to both guess the origin and relevance of the strip of photo at the top (or “head”) of each new blog and also who leave what I deem the most interesting comment.” It generally helps if you're a complete smartarse and can twist things to mean whatever you feel they should mean - exactly the way Franzy would like things to be twisted." - Shippy Blogger and GTH point scorer.
  • Nai - 1
  • Lion Kinsman - 2
  • Will - 2
  • Brocky - 2
  • Andy Pants - 2
  • The 327th Male - 3
  • Mad Cat Lady - 3
  • Miles McClagen - 4
  • Myninjacockle - 4
  • Asheligh - 5
  • Neil - 5
  • Third Cat - 5
  • Adam Y - 6
  • Squib - 6
  • Mele - 6
  • Moifey - 7
  • Jono - 8
  • The Other, other Sam - 14
  • Kath Lockett - 15
  • Shippy - 19
  • River - 32