Monday musings on Australian literature: Last minute Aussie lit shopping ideas
This is not my post on 2012 reading highlights … that will come at the end of the year … but, with Christmas just a week away, I thought I’d offer up some Aussie lit suggestions for your lovers-of-literature friends. Some of these may be tricky to find at this short notice – and these are by no means the only great bookish gift ideas – but I’m throwing them out there anyhow, so here goes.
For the Patrick White lover (or the Patrick White virgin): Patrick White’s Happy Valley. Published for the first time since its original publication, as part of the new Text Classics series, this is a treasure. I haven’t finished it yet, and it will be a little while before I get to write up a review, but nearly halfway in I can see why Grahame Greene described is as “one of the most mature first novels in recent years”. As I’m reading it, I’m pondering what is it that makes great writing, writing that makes you go “ah, how can something so simple sound so good”. I haven’t worked it out yet, but I’m enjoying the challenge … This is a book that belies the fear that White is hard. He’s not, not really … and for a Patrick White virgin Happy Valley is a highly accessible read and a good introduction to White’s concerns.
For a gift that will last all year: a subscription to the new-ish literary magazine, Kill Your Darlings. This is a gorgeous publication to hold, easy to carry around to read in those spare moments, and is also available in electronic version. This is just one of several Australian literary magazines around, and others would do the job I’m sure, but I am partial to this little publication.
For the person who’s a little scared of poetry: Suzanne Edgar’s Love procession from Gininderra Press. Poet Melinda Smith has said that “If a poem can’t speak to a person of ordinary intelligence without the help of a literature academic, the poet isn’t doing a proper job.” I defy anyone to argue that Edgar, in this often wry sometimes sad collection, isn’t doing her job.
For the indie supporting reader: a book from one of our wonderful SPUNC publishers, such as a Nigel Featherstone novella from Blemish books, or a “long story short” collection like Irma Gold’s Two steps forward from Affirm Press, or Francesca Rendle-Short’s Bite your tongue from Spinifex Press, or … well, if you want more ideas, just go to the SPUNC site and see what you can find.
For the non-fiction reader: Anna Funder’s Stasiland. A few years old now, I admit, and there has been some great non-fiction published this year. But it took me a long time to get to read Stasiland and now I have I’m like a born-again! I want everyone to read it! And, you never know, if you’re on a budget and are happy to give a secondhand book, then this could be a goer.
And last, but definitely not least …
For the gift-giver running out of time: think electronic! Many of the ideas I’ve listed above can be acquired in electronic version because this seems to be the year that Australian publishers – of journals and of books – embraced electronic publishing big time. Australian works can be found through a range of outlets – both local (online bookshops and publisher’s own sites) and international (like Amazon).
So, it’s not too late to wow someone in your circle with a great piece of Australian literature … but it will be soon if you don’t get onto it now. Happy shopping!