Saturday, 31 October 2009

The Ghost Poetry Project

Had a wonderful surprise a couple of weeks back, when a friend posted me a copy of The Ghost Poetry Project by Nathan Curnow. I didn't know it was on its way - just opened the padded bag and ... Hey presto!

Happy day. (Thanks, JL. You're a gem.)

It's an intriguing idea for an anthology of poems, built from Nathan Curnow's decision to spend ten nights in ten of Australia's (reputedly) most haunted locations. From sleeping in the back of Elvira the haunted hearse to a night at the notorious Port Arthur penal settlement.

And the writing is stunning too. Superb poetry.

Won't say much more at the moment because I'm going to interview Nathan for The View From Here very soon, except that The Ghost Poetry Project is available from a number of Australian booksellers and directly from the publisher, Puncher & Wattmann.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Recent Reads

Have just finished reading Haruki Murakami's Dance Dance Dance (Vintage). I'm a bit of a sucker for Murakami's novels (haven't read any of his non-fiction yet) and have been ever since I first came across The Wind-up Bird Chronicle about ten years ago. However, Dance Dance Dance, which was first published in 1988, has catapulted itself close to the top of my Murakami favourites.

While his novels are wonderfully surreal at times, it's a quality of the narrative voice that sucks me in and draws me along - a quality that the translator (Alfred Birnbaum on this occasion) obviously manages to retain.

High-class call girls billed to Mastercard. A psychic thirteen-year-old drop-out with a passion for Talking Heads. A hunky matinee idol doomed to play dentists and teachers. A one-armed beach-combing poet, an uptight hotel clerk (in a hotel that houses a metaphysical hotel) and one very bemused narrator...

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Book Group

Spent Thursday evening as the guest of a local Book Group, who'd chosen The Snowing and Greening of Thomas Passmore as their October selection. Thanks, folks.

I've been involved with answering the questions of a couple of Book Groups via email in the past, but this was my first 'live' involvement, and what a great night it was: a lot of laughter and a very decent drop of wine - not necessarily in that order. I could get accustomed to that.

While I'm posting, here's a plug for the delightful and witty Mrs T, who, when she's not blogging away at her own site, writes very entertaining pieces for the BBC. Check out her latest contribution to Mum's The Word here.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Surreal Italy

Flicking through some photos of Italy from May, there seems to be a surreal theme to my favourites. Was really taken by this stone tree in the courtyard of the Medici Palace in Rome and wouldn't mind growing one in our backyard.

Brilliant light and Italianate buildings suggest Giorgio de' Chirico. The only thing missing was the long shadows and the outline of a train.

The roofline of buildings spiralling down the cliffs of Cinque Terre put me in mind of Maurits Escher.

As did the rooftops in Siena.

And this Sienese beauty speaks for herself.