This latest work by Australian writer SD Thorpe, Getting Up, is a coming of age story with real roots. It’s connected, beautifully written, nicely chaThis latest work by Australian writer SD Thorpe, Getting Up, is a coming of age story with real roots. It’s connected, beautifully written, nicely characterised, and aside from some music timing faux pas, is an excellent book.
It’s Melbourne in 1989; summer time. Hapless and lost graffiti-artist-wannabe Roket has hooked up with a crew that he wants to impress; a crew that’s in the middle of a tagging war with another crew. He’s horny (seriously, the parties in this dude’s pants! Wow!), virginal, from a broken home, and fatherless. Roket is a sixteen-year-old dole bludger – back when you could get on the dole at 16. His mum is a bit of a hopeless pot-smoker.
This story isn’t about Roket trying to fit in with the right people at school; it’s about being a young person who could or should know better, trying to find his feet in the world. Fitting in is still a ‘thing’ in this new coming-of-age work, but it’s less about becoming one of the many, and more about becoming who you are, and navigating the world’s expectations at the same time.
This book was pretty good, I have to say; high praise indeed. I read it in a few hours. I read the Kindle version, and I don’t understand the pointless scraps of pictures in it, but maybe that’s just me. I think including pictures for the sake of it – which is what this seems like – is a bit silly. They didn’t add anything; they just made me wonder who the hell decided to include them.
Unlike the other coming of age book I have recently read, this one felt real to me. It felt like it had roots: the place was so much a part of the characters; the characters were so much a part of each other. I felt like SD Thorpe had run with crews and punks for years, and if she hasn’t, then by fuck she’s got some fantastic observation skills.
The way that Getting Up is written makes the language invisible. It could’ve done with more swearing. But maybe that’s the publisher’s intervention? Perhaps the author can enlighten me. Roket was too clean, or something. He felt more like a 14-year-old than a 16-year-old.
The nature of punks was perfect; the time it was set in was marked by really silly obvious things, which annoyed me – but which got that whole ‘timing’ thing out of the way fairly quickly. Things like, the Berlin Wall coming down. I remember that, really well. I was nine. It was 1989. I watched it on the telly, lying on the loungeroom floor in shorts and t-shirt, and watching these ecstatic Germans breaking the wall apart, in the snow. All of the detail was perfect.
The timing pointers did, however, make me go back and fact-check the author, too, on the timing of some albums of which I was doubtful. For example: the book is 1989, and the author references Green Day’s debut album 39/Smooth… the chances of a shy, not particularly well connected 16-year-old in Melbourne having this in its release year are slim, at best.
But it’s ok, the timing was out. That debut album didn’t hit the world until April 1990.
Roket’s story is all the better for how tightly it’s presented (music faux pas aside). It’s not just a friendship battle. It’s that, plus dealing with potentially being branded a killer by accident and fate, plus other elements of criminal activity. And then there are all of those bigger questions: is it worthwhile going back to school? If you are talented, why do you need training, and isn’t talent good enough? Why be a grown-up at all, when every grownup around you is a fuckup, a fuckwit, or just goddamned hopeless.
This is an excellent work, and I encourage you to get your hands on it, and spend a lazy Sunday indulging yourself, as I did. It’s well worth your time. ...more
I forget how I came across this book. All I remember is scanning one of the many online bookstores that I frequent, seeing it pop up in a list somewh I forget how I came across this book. All I remember is scanning one of the many online bookstores that I frequent, seeing it pop up in a list somewhere, and thinking, "I really want to read that".
So I bought it on a whim, without reading reviews, without even having a concrete idea as to what it was about. The best kind of purchase - totally self-driven.
It was worth however much it was, the twenty-something dollars. Thomas Sheridan has a very conversational style about him. He finds a thread, goes onto something else, comes back to the original thread, and uses the momentum to keep pushing his narrative forwards. If you are not familiar with this type of style, you might find it 'rambling', as many other people have noted.
It is not rambling, it's conversational. Rambling goes on, loses the point, fails to find the original point, and then kind of misses itself all over again. Sheridan does not lose the point he is driving towards.
More importantly, he picks up threads and reiterates them later, in relation to a secondary or underlying issue, which could not have been discussed earlier.
Whether or not I agree with his premise about psychopaths is totally beside the point. I agree with much of his assessment of unscrupulous people. Indeed, just on my reading sections of this book out to others has caused those people to exclaim that my ex was clearly psychopathic. Many of those people have proclaimed this, without even reading through such clear definitions as Sheridan provides.
The most important thing about this book is in its discussion of psychopathic societies, and the notion that humans are not bad, nasty people - and the conditioning that the mass media creates to make the collective think this. These sections of Sheridan's work are of great import to humanity as a whole, especially in relation to the notion of clear thinking, clear assessment, and returning to a critical point of view.
The critical point of view, and assessing all information independently in order to come to a researched and personal perspective, is something that many people these days miss. It needs to be taught, and this is a good vehicle by which to do so. Sheridan's perspective on the psychopathologies of regular society may be harnessed by curious people more easily than, say, the point of view of David Icke: even though they are both saying exactly the same thing.
There are issues with this book, from the zeros instead of 'o's, the poor editing, and some of the gaps, but even I can overlook these in consideration of the content.
It's an excellent, if occasionally confronting, read. And you need to let your own opinion go, read the work, consider it. Some of the statements made me laugh, some made me raise an eyebrow, but as a whole it was very much a worthwhile journey....more
I love Raffles and his offsider Bunny. These guys are to crime what Sherlock Holmes is to solving crime! Interesting that the author, E.W. Hornung, waI love Raffles and his offsider Bunny. These guys are to crime what Sherlock Holmes is to solving crime! Interesting that the author, E.W. Hornung, was also Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's son-in-law; so it makes it extra-special in those stories where Raffles and Holmes come face-to-face. When you know this, the entire thing seems like a family joke.
I'm not going to go into detail; suffice to say, that if you haven't read Raffles, you must. Your life is incomplete if you haven't....more
I had been told about the excellence of this book, with great gusto, by a friend. As usual, it took me forever to get around to reading it.
And I adoreI had been told about the excellence of this book, with great gusto, by a friend. As usual, it took me forever to get around to reading it.
And I adored it. For those who have seen the film, it is quite different (better) to the film.
As a great lover of Russian literature, and the certain turn of phrase that comes from the Russians to my eyes via superb and seamless translation, this book really did it for me. The very moment that I finished it, I began on the second novel in the series - which I have only just completed.
I have long known the story of the West Memphis Three. One of my friends was deeply into the cause, and, some years ago, ran a film night at Adelaide'I have long known the story of the West Memphis Three. One of my friends was deeply into the cause, and, some years ago, ran a film night at Adelaide's Mercury Cinemas, to raise money to help their legal battles. She did a fantastic job; but more to the point, that was the first time I had ever seen anything much about the story.
This book is a simple, passionate, peaceful autobiography by Damien Echols, writing about his version of events. It details his life up to the point where he was arrested, and after that only covers the aspects of his life that he wished to bring to the world. As he pointed out in the book, the story of the WM3 had already been more than ably covered by other books and documentaries.
The beauty of this novel lies in its simplicity. It reads like a letter, which in many ways is how it was written. You come to know Damien very personally, and as far as much autobiography goes, is devoid of ego. It is rare to read a text like this, and I suspect it has something to do with his perspective on the world after devoting himself to studies such as Buddhism, Zen, and many other philosophies. I won't go into the detail, but it was this section of the work in which much of the story really drew me in. I'm a sucker for that stuff.
Downside? As always, the errors, man, the textual, unnecessary errors!! Fuuck me drunk, I fear I will never read another beautifully edited book in my life. I hope I'm wrong....more
Christopher Knight and Alan Butler's story is an intriguing scientific journey. While the very title of the book, Who Built the Moon?, may cause yourChristopher Knight and Alan Butler's story is an intriguing scientific journey. While the very title of the book, Who Built the Moon?, may cause your hackles to rise with indignation, it's at once a challenge to your open-mindedness, and extremely ballsy.
Knight and Butler became curious about the origins of the moon. Their quest to discover the moon's origins took them (and subsequently, you, as you read this book) to some far out, apparently unrelated, and yet deeply interesting places. You will learn about units of Sumerian measurement, and why they are central to understanding astronomical anomalies. You will learn, as you read, to unravel your own prejudices and follow the path of exploration.
I know very well that those who staunchly defend Science will instantly guffaw at the notion of the moon being built, it is those self-same people who ought to be able to follow the evidence in all of its forms, and be curious about the outcome. At its heart, scientific enquiry requires a sense of adventure and a good imagination.
It's a difficult subject, and Knight and Butler handle it with clarity, simplicity, and skill. When we got into discussions about quantum mechanics, mobius twists, and the nature of what I will render as 'multiverses' rather than 'multiple universes', that's really the only point in the book wherein the content became challenging enough to exercise my brain to the point where it hurt. The remainder of the subject matter was adroitly handled, with a careful simplicity that deserves applause.
But I do have questions. I question the notion of a human-created moon, because it would suppose that at some point we will come to a place where the moon is either threatened or does not exist. I wonder whether anybody has picked up where Knight and Butler have left off, mapping genomes to pixels. I am curious to know what impact this work, and the hypothesis (and results) it presents, have had any impact on communities at all. And if it hasn't, why hasn't it?
You can tell I haven't started querying the internet yet.
The only irritating thing with this book, given its beautiful framework of argumentation, was the unnecessary and annoying gaps in the proofing. It's tough to give a lot of credit to a work wherein the word 'physicist' is repeatedly misspelled. Still, we plough onwards. The work is good enough that we can overlook this.
I'm not going to cast here the argumentation in the book. Instead, I will merely exhort you to find it and read it. It's easily enough read in one sitting, if you have the luxury of uninterrupted time.
To conclude this piece, I'll take a quote from the book:
"...if someone refuses to look at obvious patterns because they consider a pattern should not be there, then they will see nothing but the reflection of their own prejudices."...more
This book was a fabulous step back into big picture thinking, and an excellent reminder that your thoughts create the world. It's also the sort of volThis book was a fabulous step back into big picture thinking, and an excellent reminder that your thoughts create the world. It's also the sort of volume that one doesn't read once, but many times....more
I'm closing the chapter on this book. I started reading it faithfully, and came to (re)learn so much more about my dance. All of the things that applyI'm closing the chapter on this book. I started reading it faithfully, and came to (re)learn so much more about my dance. All of the things that apply to me as a writer also apply to me as a dancer. Except the observation is less about the whole picture, and more about certain parts: movement, texture, shape, space, mood, time. All about texture in movement, and texture in movement, and how the two are related.
As a bellydancer, it was extremely useful to me, in theory and philosophy. In practise, it's a bit more abstract, written as it is for the ballet dancer. That is, at the *moment* it is a bit more abstract. I know with certainty that as I grow into my choreography, different parts of this book will apply more closely, and that I will derive more and more from its pages. In general, this text is valuable to dancers of ALL creeds.
Even though this text is written with dance teachers in mind, as a student of the art of choreography, I have benefited enormously from it. Most especially from the chapter on not letting music dictate the dance to you. It's a really tough notion to get past, that one.
I have yet to try many of the suggested exercises in the book, but that will happen when I have more time to choreograph, and am not pushing myself towards performance choreography at short notice.
Highly recommend this work to all dancers. Best twenty-something-dollars I've spent in a long while.
This is an absolute must-read book. You may have noticed that I've only given it three stars; that's for a whole bunch of reasons, the most striking
This is an absolute must-read book. You may have noticed that I've only given it three stars; that's for a whole bunch of reasons, the most striking of which is an editing failure. This book is wonderful for its content, and leaves a lot desired in terms of its technical execution: a good editor would have resolved most of them.
While this book examines time, it is itself a beautiful depiction of the limitations of time. Written before the turn of the century, the content is time-bound, even though its content rails against the notion of being time-locked.
In terms of the research and argumentation behind most of the claims of this text, it's hard to fault Pip Pip. I'm certainly not going to; I learned a vast amount about the nature of the time that restricts our daily lives, and how it came into being. I wish Griffiths had taken it further, looked more deeply into this element of time; however, deducing it myself it makes it rather easy to see where so much dissatisfaction and stress comes from. The manipulation of time.
Given the book was published before smartphones, there is another element to this too: the notion that your time can be altered without you even knowing. This gives a rather new slant on the wristwatch timepiece that Griffiths discusses in relation to other issues.
Further, Pip Pip is a textual work that captures and frames all sorts of times: woman's time, pagan time, wild time. It made me yearn for the timelessness of hills in the bush; for the quiet slowness of time in rural Australia.
Every person needs to read this book. And the fact that it is itself time-locked is simply another paradox of time, and one that should not dissuade anybody from reading it....more
In the beginning of this book, having been so used to the primary protagonist of the previous novel, Anton Gorodetsky, it took me a little while to woIn the beginning of this book, having been so used to the primary protagonist of the previous novel, Anton Gorodetsky, it took me a little while to work out what was going on. I had no idea who this Alisa Donnikova was or why she was important. Or why this second book in the series was focusing so clearly on her. For a while I wondered if the novel was going to be a series of character-based short stories.
But it turned out that it was all just me being impatient. Gradually, one discerns why Alisa's circumstances are so important; but interestingly, one does not really discover this until much, much later in the book.
It was not, in fact, until I was on the home-run of this book - the last twenty pages or so - that I properly understood the statements from each Watch in the in the front-matter of the book proper:
- This text has been banned for distribution as injurious to the cause of the light. - Night Watch - This text has been banned for distribution as injurious to the cause of the darkness. - Day Watch
Day Watch is a far more interesting story than Night Watch. It proposes some interesting concepts to challenge your own notions of lightness and darkness, too. After taking so long to read Night Watch, I devoured Day Watch in a matter of weeks, and will hopefully finish the third book rather sooner than that.
Lukyanenko is an extremely talented writer. As an editor, and former publisher myself, I am a really tough audience. Yet I fall deeply into the spell of his fiction quite easily, and am happy to stay and wallow there. For me, there is no fight between enjoying the story and being aware of the text; this is really rare, and is probably why I enjoy the works so very much....more
Sometimes, avoiding celebrated books is not always a clever thing to do. Memoirs of a Geisha was a pleasant, engaging, lovely read.
Like many discerninSometimes, avoiding celebrated books is not always a clever thing to do. Memoirs of a Geisha was a pleasant, engaging, lovely read.
Like many discerning readers, I avoid celebrated books like the plague, until they're $0.50 in an op shop. Then I'll buy it out of curiosity. Sometimes it doesn't work and friends buy me ghastly books as gifts (ahem, Da Vinci Code). But Memoirs of a Geisha was an op-shop purchase, and it's the best fifty cents I've spent in a long time.
There are two key things that immediately engaged my appreciation for this work's existence. The first is the unfailing honesty of the author who, in forewords and acknowledgements, is very clear about the process of gaining the story, and of his own failings. The second is the way in which the voice of Sayuri herself has been rendered.
It is difficult sometimes, in assessing the value of a memoir, to determine whether or not it has been appropriately developed. This particular story has so much about it of the original telling, that its value for me is very high. Reading the book, deeply immersed in a personal story that feels like it's being whispered in your ear, I found myself startled when the narrator pulled out of the story to explain things.
It's very much like a spoken word experience. The story is highly visual, and the occasional narrator intervention breaks the spell very slightly. Is it perhaps a measure of the subject's ability to hold a conversation and entertain?
Having only just concluded the reading of Memoirs of a Geisha, I feel enriched for having spent the time with Sayuri, and learning about her life. Her struggles may have appeared petty at times - like all human struggles - but that is hardly a criticism. I find myself now yearning for someone to write the story of another Geisha in Gion at the time, one who might have known Sayuri and could give us another perspective. That would be terribly interesting.
But, as I say, a beautiful, pleasant read - made all the more so by the honesty and forthrightness of the man who penned it. Very much recommended....more
For many, many years I have considered reading works by the Dalai Lama. Going hunting for them, I found more volumes than I could possibly buy all atFor many, many years I have considered reading works by the Dalai Lama. Going hunting for them, I found more volumes than I could possibly buy all at once, and so kind of went for a blind stab in the dark with The Art of Happiness.
It was a deeply interesting read, and a fast one: I finished it in only a few sittings.
However, if you are looking for a book written by the Dalai Lama, this is not one. Yes, a lot of the sentiments are direct quotes. Yes whole tracts of it originate with the Dalai Lama. But it was not authored by His Holiness.
It is, in fact, a book that was written by someone else who had hoped to gain from the Tibetan leader a handbook for happiness. Do this, this, and that, and bam! Happy. It was not the case that it ended up this way. As a result, the book is rather more like a work of creative non-fiction, where we follow the actual author around behind the Dalai Lama, and experience the author's frustrations with Buddhist philosophy. We also gain commentary that unpacks a lot of the Dalai Lama's teachings.
While it is dishonest in some respects that the book is promoted as being by the Dalai Lama, one could argue that it is the essence of the book that is by His Holiness, and that part of it is what counts.
This work steps you through the basic tenets of Buddhist philosophy, on a compare/contrast basis with Western philosophy and scientific thinking. In many aspects, the two are complementary - even supporting each other - though the Buddhist thinking is far simpler, far more elegant. Despite this simplicity, it will cause you to stop and consider. There were many points throughout this book at which I stopped and stared at the wall in contemplation.
More importantly, if you apply the principles to yourself, you will find yourself calmer, and you will find yourself yielding better relations with people around you, seemingly without effort.
As an entry into the basics of Eastern and Tibetan Buddhist thinking, this is a nice doorway. It is not, however, enough simply to read this book. To derive anything from it, one must read, consider, and apply.
Applying any of the principles presented in this book takes enormous effort, because it requires you to challenge your default reactions, and to focus on compassion - even when you're reeealllyyy annoyed or angry. When you start to get a grip on it, your relationships with people will all improve: You start to relate to people as humans, rather than as how you perceive them to be.
I guess the question really is whether any Western reader has the stamina to apply it, or is willing to relinquish his or her pleasure in favour of happiness. Chase happiness rather than pleasure, connect with all people as humans, practice compassion. It doesn't sound like much at all, yet the impact is enormous.
There is much to consider in this book. In fact, almost two days later, I am still ruminating on its argument. And that alone is a measure of a book that needs to be shared....more
This is a book that anyone interested in science ought to read; yet I fear that it is also one that the militant atheistic sciencey types will immediaThis is a book that anyone interested in science ought to read; yet I fear that it is also one that the militant atheistic sciencey types will immediately disregard.
The Holographic Universe is an evaluative and rigorous examination of an alternative theory of physics. That is holographic or holomovement physics, which posits that the universe functions in a way similar to a hologram.
In doing so, Talbot gives us a foundational knowledge of elements of quantum physics that we require in order to understand the landscape. From here, the book runs us through a very complete examination of parts of reality that the theorem may be able to explain. It includes all of the 'uncomfortable' things about reality that mainstream science disregards, or at least, acknowledges exists but views as something that is unexplainable (and therefore probably a mental delusion).
Such things include out of body experiences, understanding of psychokinetic ability, understanding of dream worlds, different ways of examining the ability of people to manifest things in the real world, and an examination of physical health.
It is a highly engaging, extremely well referenced work. It is also extremely well argued. It is not, however, the type of work that insists on being the only perspective; in fact, there are many occasions, especially in some of the more challenging topics, where Talbot will argue other sides perspectives and points of view that are equally valid.
As for me, I kept copious notes throughout the reading of this book, now have a sizeable bibliography of works to follow up and read, and annoyed those around me by reading excerpts of parts I found particularly interesting. Which, given I am a lot more nerdy than them, was probably quite irritating.
This is a work highly recommended for the curious mind. If you are not open-minded about physics, then perhaps avoid this - if only to avoid your own discomfort. ...more