Today it rained

Journal: 023

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, glasses and indoor
MST’s book launch. Photo by Lisa Hill

Today (Wednesday) it rained. If you’re a Sydneysider you’ll know what I mean. Though it wasn’t just Sydney, grain harvest and carting was suspended all the way across South Australia as I came over at the weekend, to Melbourne, arriving early enough to have coffee with MST and her wonderful children and then tea with Lou (teacher son) in non-rainy, post Dan-slide Victoria.

MST gave me a copy of this year’s Stella winner, Alexis Wright’s Tracker which I hadn’t intended reading, but which having started I can’t put down. A review is coming, though it may take me till the xmas hols.

I’m sure I’m not the only reader who misses Michelle’s blog since she started working at Stella. She says she has 160 books to read for next year’s prize (or some such number). Even if there’re half a dozen judges, that’s still a lot of reading. But she has undertaken to review the Billabong series, of which she has long been a fan, for AWW Gen 2 week. That’s 13-19 Jan. Michelle.

Lou had a book for me too, on an episode in Australian working class history, which has long been absent from my library, but I told him to wrap it and give it to me when he comes over for Christmas. Psyche has phoned just in the last hour to say that she has booked her flight from Darwin, Milly and I have booked time off, Gee and the grandkids won’t go on holidays till the new year, so that’s all of us, in Perth, on the actual Christmas Day, and Milly is planning a feast (my jobs are transport and grog, purchase of).

My deliveries in Melbourne were quite straightforward, though way down in Dandenong (an outer south-eastern suburb), but after that I got thoroughly Draganned. I had a pickup in the outer west, then a second in Frankston, back past Dandenong (we’re talking two 100 km round trips, in traffic), and a third in Cowra – yes that Cowra, 500 kms north in NSW. That was this morning, which means the rain had come. I’m not used to rain. And it got worse. With three quarters of a load I came on into Sydney. Unloaded it all at a depot for transport at a later date. And now I sit at the Eastern Creek truckstop. The rain still falls. I await further instructions.

Sitting around in Melbourne – there was a 24 hour break somewhere in those cross-city back and forths – I started sorting through the newspapers that populate my passenger seat. I know I said I’ve given up paper newspapers, and I have, but Milly and I bond over cryptics, so when I think of it I buy a weekend paper. The West, which has the cryptic we’re used to, or the SMH/Age which we find harder. I keep the motoring sections ‘for later’, and then there’s Owner-Driver which is free in truckstops, and in amongst all these I found the last six Australian Book Review, which subscription I will not renew but which I must have paid a couple of years ahead – and still the reviews are mostly not Australian and if they are, are mostly not fiction.

But I found a few interesting Indigenous stories. In Wright’s wonderful biography Tracker Tilmouth seems to identify various groups within his community by the matriarch, so ‘Geraldine mob’ or ‘Ursula mob’. This is not a usage I’ve run into before but it comes up again in ABR May 2018, “The Paradox of Recognition” by Richard Martin, about native title in the Ceduna area. I wrote in Crossing the Nullarbor, “… from Yalata to Ceduna, were the Wirangu whose language was subsumed by the related Kokatha, another member of the Western Desert family of languages to their north.” Ceduna’s Aunty Sue Mob are identified as Kokatha and are initially excluded from the Wirangu native title claim. The article – a review of two books – discusses how legalistic views of native title are breaking up communities.

Two other articles on Indigenous issues are Kim Mahood on archeology (April 2018). Indigenous occupation has been extended back 65,000 years and the book she reviews, Deep Time Dreaming by Billy Griffiths studies the question ‘Who owns the past?’; and Alan Atkinson on The Sydney Wars by Stephen Gapps (August 2018). “In response to invasion, various Indigenous groups on the Cumberland Plain were drawn together from time to time, apparently in innovative ways …” to fight back.

On a different subject altogether, Beejay Silcox writes ‘We are all MFAs now!’ (August 2018). Over a number of pages she argues that MFA programmes make no difference to what we read, but have merely taken the space formerly offered by cafes as forums for budding writers to meet and criticize each other’s writing. Studying in America she discovers, quelle surprise!, that American courses teach only American writing. My own opinion is that Masters degrees have taken the space formerly occupied by tech college diplomas.


Recent audiobooks

Mary Burton (F, USA), The Hang Man (2017) – More dead young women, their deaths described in loving detail. Do the authors get off on writing this stuff?
Blake Crouch (M, USA), Dark Matter (2016)
Andrea Camilleri (M, Ita), Angelica’s Smile (2014)
Eve Chase (F, Eng), Black Rabbit Hall (2016)
Kate Atkinson (F, Eng), When Will There be Good News (2008)

Currently reading

Dale Spender, Mothers of the Novel
Alexis Wright, Tracker (2017)

Stuff on the Internet

The NY Times flies out to Australia, to Goroke in western Victoria to meet the next Nobel Laureate in Literature (thanks to my brother in law who sent me this) and finds him behind the bar at the local golf club (here).


21 thoughts on “Today it rained

  1. It was great to see you Bill. FWIW I don’t HAVE to read all the books entered in The Stella Prize (I’m not a judge!) but they’re all in the office so I’m beautifully spoilt for choice. And I see what you’re doing there by ‘announcing’ my forthcoming Billabong review. No pressure!!


    • You volunteered! And last year year you came in early, so I’m sure you can do it again this year, Christmas pressures notwithstanding. Hope you’ve got those Billabong books memorised, there’s not much time left for reading.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Gosh, even I would struggle with 160 books – and I say that not to brag, but to note that Goodreads tells me I’ve read 208 books this year and that means it’s taken me 11 months to do that and I am a very quick reader!
    I feel for you in that rain. I saw the Sydney cops gobsmacked by the people still speeding despite the conditions … all 4WDs, I bet, they seem to think they are a law unto themselves, says she who has often had one an inch from the bumper bar as I slow down for a speed hump which they planned to sail over at 20k over the speed limit. How much longer does it take to stop a fully laden truck in the kind of conditions Sydney had yesterday? I can’t imagine, I just give you guys a very wide berth.
    PS MFAs are the new diploma, are they? *chuckle* Where does that leave us with a mere Bachelor’s degree or two?


      • Enjoyed your post as usual Bill… And Cowra. Now that’s a play I like to visit.

        I love that you and Milly bond over cryptics. My Gums and I “courted” over cryptics and ballroom dancing. I have a Donald Harrison cryptic book permanently in my handbag and whenever we have a cuppa out (as we did this morning) that’s what we do.

        I am so intrigued by Tracker – would love to tackle it but it’s so long and my reading time is so limited. (Well, it would be less limited of course if I didn’t comment on blog posts!!)


      • *pout* not funny. The big ones are scary because they just plough over the speed humps and they really do tailgate because they’re not expecting to have to slow down (or, they like to harass drivers who do).

        Liked by 1 person

    • Heavy rain is mostly annoying because it restricts visibility, particularly rearward. If you don’t have headlights on you are invisible.

      The problem I think with Masters courses is in fact that they are becoming less rigorous than a Bachelors degree, just a bit of work-related icing to go on top.


      • Not too tactful! Melanie, you and I both have Masters degrees (you have twice as many as me), which I’m sure we had to work for. But do you think there’s a recent tendency to offer vocational courses and call them Masters. The problem in Australia is that the universities earn a lot of their income selling degrees to Asian students, and there’s a temptation to make them as easy as possible so everyone passes.


  3. There are SO many books about dead young women, teens, and girls. I just don’t get it. It’s interesting to hear you’re not used to the rain. I mean, I assumed, but when you live in a place that will do all four seasons in one day, you get use to putting on your rain boots and then doing donuts with your car in the snow.


    • Melanie, you and Sue and Lisa have all commented on this issue recently, which is why I was so aware of it. As I commented on your blog, I dislike violence in books as much as I do on screen. But I can see there is something perversely sexual going on with scenes like those in The Hangman.


  4. Replying to Sue (the indents are all over the place). Milly and I have things we do to stay in touch. We did try rock&roll, not ballroom dancing one time when we were edging back from a major separation. We were spectacularly hopeless! Now we mostly eat out, talk about stuff and do cryptics.


    • Yes, I notice my reply was wrongly indented – I thought I’d done it as a reply to the post, not to Michelle but who knows.

      The closest to Rock&Roll we’ve got is the Jive which is a fun dance. Eating out is always good!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Rain in Sydney, fires in Queensland but there’s no such thing as climate change according to the pollies in Canberra…hmmm, I wonder if a Danslide or equivalent will hit them?

    To be honest, you’re the first blogger that I read regularly who has endorsed Tracker. Despite my devoted reading of the Stella lists, I didn’t have time to get through Tacker this year (so of course it won) – I was lucky enough to be at Prize announcement earlier this year and heard Wright speak – her speech was calm and powerful.

    To the horror of my fellow students and the institution where I am studying, I rejected turning my Grad Dip into a Masters next year. Been there, done that, I thought and at the cost of a Masters I could do 6-8 amazing professional development short courses – it somehow seems better value.


    • A Bill slide is coming for Morrison, though Labor are to the right of the general population on both climate and refugees.

      Tracker is a great book – of course it is, it’s Alexis Wright. I’ll tell you if it’s too long in about 300 more pages.

      I have a Grad Dip in Logistics that was going to be a totally bogus M. Bus from RMIT, was much less rigorous than my Accountancy degree, just bullshit for Australian and Asian third rate middle managers. You’re obviously loving the course you’re doing now, and that’s all that matters.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Well, I enjoyed this discussion….eavesdropping from NL.
    I saw your biblical rainfall in Sydney on our news….absolutely amazing.
    I think if NL got a month’s rainfall in 2 hours we’d be underwater…we’re under
    sealevel as it is!
    Next: cryptics? I finally found one on The Guardian website..I haven’t puzzled in decades!
    Bill, I love your template includig audio books – currently reading – Internet stuff.
    …I would like tou se these ideas for my review template 2019, if you don’t mind.
    At the moment I’m listening to a lot of podcasts. Perfect moments to listen to reviews and interviews with author. Can you or any of you readers suggest some good ‘bookish’ podcasts?
    PS I looked at Seven Little Australians ….a bit too sentimental for my taste.
    AWW Gen 2 I’ll have to look for another book.


    • Nancy, you’re welcome of course, I’m flattered. The Resident Judge – see my side panel – does a weekly podcast review. You’re right about Seven Little Australians. I’ll look up something better while I have breakfast.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Nancy, I suggest Louise Mack, A Woman’s Experiences in the Great War (1915), see AWW Gen 2 page for link to Proj. Gutenberg. Mack sails from Ostend to Bruges and I was interested in the parallels with ‘tourists’ who went to watch the Battle of Waterloo. But, Australians are still fixated on our participation in WWI and you might see this account with new eyes.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I will investigate the book, thanks. BTW found a great podcast via The Resident Judge Conversation ABC …an interview with Leigh Sales. I just read her book ‘An Ordinary Day.

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s