Such a quirky book from Jonas Jonasson. It puts me in mind of A Man Called Ove and I thoroughly enjoyed that. Something about Nordic authors – the books are either bleak and terrifying, such as The Keeper of Lost Causes or witty and charming like this one. That is not to say there isn’t violence and cruelty in the story, but there is an underlying joy of life. Maybe, because I am older, the age of the main character draws me in. It makes me realise that life goes on.
Looks like I’ve come in one short of my target although Goodreads says I’ve reached my target of 35.
2017 has been a roller-coaster for reading. I’ve had some droughts and some splurges. Certainly, I read more slowly nowadays – probably more deeply too.
I’m not too sure about setting a target for 2018. I’ll have to think about it.
One of my Resolutions for 2018 is to keep my mind and my heart open.
I enjoy fantasy and I enjoy short stories. The Starlit Wood ticks the boxes.
Some of the stories are disturbing but in good way! There are only a couple that didn’t appeal. The best ones to my mind are an amazing take on Little Red Riding Hood by Seanan McGuire, Seasons of Glass and Iron by Amal El-Mohtar. Garth Nix doesn’t disappoint with Penny for a Match, Mister? Not to be missed The Briar and the Rose by Marjorie M. Liu. Possibly my favourite is Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik. I love the way that, in most of the stories, the empowerment is given to the character who is downtrodden in the original.
So many insights in this book. For writers and would-be writers, the journals of Australian George Ernest Morrison as explored by Linda Jaivin are a goldmine. Jaivin grasps the coalescence of story and method to elucidate – and educate – the history and work of George Ernest Morrison.
I found this to be a captivating book which, as it says in the blurb “… is a surprising, witty and erotic tale of sexual and other obsessions set in the ‘floating world’ of Westerners in China and Japan at the turn of the twentieth century”. The history of the Russo-Japanese War (about which I know very little) becomes clear and impact on the subsequent history of China becomes more understandable.
One paragraph that hooked me in quite near the beginning of the book (pages 62-63) is this one where Jaivin analyses Morrison’s writing: “Morrison’s greatest regret was that for all his accomplishments, he was not, he knew, a great writer … But when he thought of poets and writers he admired, he felt humble – but not many things humbled Morrison – for great authors, like Kipling, his favourite, gave moral sense to the world. It was not just facility with language or even rich imagination, he knew, that made an author great, but the way the writer reached for and honoured the truth.” There is the realisation that in his public writing he was incapable of “an unwavering allegiance to the truth. He could not deny to himself that how he understood the world did not always accord with the way he presented it to others”. Why this impressed me is because it reflects my own writerly efforts.
We can look at the characters now and recognise the warmongering psyche, the paternalistic and sexist attitude – but it is not for us to judge in hindsight.
This is last week’s blog. Somehow I didn’t get round to writing one then.
My love affair with Bali began in 2009. With several others, I joined my friend and colleague Michele Hendarwin on a Yoga Retreat and cultural experience. This turned out to be a life-changing time for me. I had never wished to visit Bali before but, in the interests of challenging my (then) fear of flying, Michele convinced me that the short flight from Perth to Bali (about three-and-a-half hours) was a good place to start! Since then I have returned to Bali once or twice a year. Sometimes with Michele’s Yoga Retreat and sometimes with my family.
Gunung Agung from Sanur
Gunung Agung in the clouds
At the moment the one thing on my mind is Gunung Agung volcano in Bali. I’m wondering if there is a tipping point after which the eruption has to take place? The volcano is presently rumbling and shaking and the seismic charts look dire.
The Indonesian authorities have already evacuated over 25,000 people from Karangasem district to centres such as the one in Klungkung where they are being cared for. The evacuees have had to leave their homes, temples, pets, and livestock. The crops in the fields lie in the direct path of the volcano.
The last time Gunung Agung erupted was in 1963 and lasted for a year. In that eruption, ash and lava was thrown 10kms into the air. Acid rain and rocks rained down on the east coast of the island. The official (conservative) estimate of people killed in that eruption is around 1,200. However, many of the elders who lived through it believe the number of people killed was in excess of 5,000.
Water, especially clean, potable water, is always an issue in Bali. The camps have limited resources for the many thousands of evacuees. ABC News reports: “At the Klungkung evacuation centre south of Mt Agung, soldiers from the Indonesian army were preparing rice for the 3,500 villagers who had moved into the site. The evacuees were housed in tents and the local sports hall, sleeping on camp beds and the floor.” In the midst of the trauma it warms my heart that care is being taken of those Balinese displaced by the impending eruption.
Gunung Agung is a mighty volcano, over 3,000m high. Pura Besakih is a temple complex in the village of Besakih on the slopes of Mount Agung. It is the most important, the largest and holiest temple of Hindu religion in Bali. The monks have been evacuated from the temple.
Mt. Batur, also erupted in 1963, a few months after Agung. Mt Batur is known for the hot springs in the caldera. Kintamani is the village on the rim of the volcano.
To my all my Balinese friends, I wish you safe passage through this troubling time.
I grew up on a farm in Africa. Although it was not solely a dairy farm there was a dairy. Long before before milking machines the cows were milked by hand. Every cow had a name and if I think about it hard enough I can remember a few of them. I can remember the cool, dark dairy in the early morning. The fragrance of the warm milk mingles with more pungent smell of the silage, and the waft of fresh manure. In my mind I can hear the cows munching, the sound of milk frothing against the sides of metal buckets, and the dairy hands talking and whistling softly. Most of the commands where whistles as the cows were moved along and the next lot moved in. My mother would sit up at a high desk recording the amount of milk from each cow.
The Friesland dairy herd were, at that time, my mother’s pride and joy. Butterfly was the colossal Friesland stud bull. He was kept penned for a lot of the time and as a result was quite cantankerous. One day he escaped from his pen and it just so happened that my younger sister and I were in the vicinity. He came lumbering after the two of us and the bunch of African children we were playing with. We all ran for our lives, screaming (of course). I grabbed my sister by the hand and dragged her willy-nilly to the silo. Normally we were forbidden to climb into or onto the silo but under the circumstances I disregarded that command while ‘escaping’ from Butterfly. I can’t remember the outcome of this adventure but seeing it was not me who released Butterfly from his pen, it was probably trouble-free.
I’ve often thought of Butterfly and wondered why such a delicate name was bestowed on such a massive animal. What happened to him I have no idea. The dairy was eventually closed. The big metal cans used to transport the milk to the Dairy Marketing Board – who knows what happened to them?
I can recall things about those early mornings in the dairy which, in reality, I was probably too young to remember. But, there is a softness in these memories; the memories evoke the peacefulness of the predawn milking.