I went to Penrith last night, as I said I would, with the intention of ordering the new International Booker winner by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld, The Discomfort of Evening. I didn’t expect to find it on the shelves since our Penrith store is much smaller than the main store in Sydney (and I’ve been told by the proprietor that they don’t get certain books because I’m the only one who asks for them!) Besides, the book was released in Australia back in April. But I looked anyway. I wasn’t surprised when a careful scan of the fiction shelves didn’t turn it up.
I had a screenshot of the cover on my phone so I went to the service desk to order the book. The shop assistant recognised it and said she thought they had a copy. Her fingers danced over the computer keys and sure enough, they did. In the reference section. With dictionaries and other stuff. I pointed out that it was a novel and that it was surely misplaced, but her computer confirmed that that’s where it would be, and that is, indeed, where it was.
To be fair to the shop assistant who placed it there, they got it exactly right. The classifications for books are printed on the price tag, which comes from the computer database which is tended by the book shop gods. Nevertheless, I was a bit overwhelmed. The store not only had my book, but they’d kept it for me since April in some kind of Twilight Zone (or possibly L-Space if you read Pratchett).
The price tag for my copy of The Discomfort of Evening showing it classified as 'REF' - Reference.
The International Booker Prize 2020 was announced yesterday. Marieke Lucas Rijneveld’s The Discomfort of Evening was the winner. In keeping with our Booker Project, I’ll be getting the novel as soon as I can and I intend to read it before the end of the year. In fact, I plan to travel to Penrith tonight and see if Dymocks has a copy, otherwise I’ll order at the book shop.
Of course, some will wonder why I don’t just order it online and be done with it. My only response is to quote Kurt Vonnegut’s observation:
We are here on Earth to fart around.
For most of history, anonymous was a woman – attributed to Virginia Woolf
Woolf’s actual words were
I would venture to guess that Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman (from A Room of One’s Own). It was a comment on how works written by women have been judged as inferior to those from male authors. Women have systematically been made invisible throughout history. A prime example of this is the number of books written by women but published under a male pseudonym, such as Mary Ann Evans who published under the name George Eliot. Evans wrote seven books, including Middlemarch, The Mill on the Floss and Silas Marner, as well as poetry and other works.
To mark the 25th anniversary of the Women’s Prize for Fiction (2020 winner to be announced on 9 September 2020), 25 titles originally published under male names have been republished under their author’s actual names for the first time. The collection aims to honour the achievements of these writers and give them the credit they deserve.
The collection is being released as the Reclaim Her Name library. A short article on the collection can be viewed here.
I just finished Don Hartshorn’s The Guilty Die Twice this morning. It was one of two books sent to us for review by TCK Publishing.com. I’ll be reviewing it later this morning. WaywardWoman is reading the other book, Contempt by Michael Cordell. She tells me she’s halfway through and seems to be enjoying it.
Meanwhile, in Facebook land, I did one post and haven’t been back to it. You can click on the Facebook link on this page (at least it still exists as I write this) to see, but it wasn’t anything interesting. I have an instinctive dislike of social media, which was only reinforced this morning when I was shown an example of the kind of vitriolic exchange people can be drawn into over the medium, even when both parties have presumably good intentions. It reminds me of reality TV, where contestants are pitted against each other to produce what is often entertainment derived from the worst of human instincts. Still wondering whether I’ll go ahead with it, even though I tried to force myself over the cliff the other day by putting the Facebook links onto this site. I’ll see.
I dislike social media, which explains why I haven’t had a social media footprint for years. But yesterday I worked on getting a book giveaway set up on our website for TCK Publishing and it got me thinking that it would be fun to work with publishers in Australia. Then I figured a social media presence for this website, if not for me personally, would make publishers take us more seriously. So, this morning I set up a Facebook page for this website. Click on the Facebook symbol if you want to check it out.
At the moment, it is something of an experiment which I may or may not continue. I’d be interested to see if anyone contacts me via the new page, but I’m expecting to hear crickets as I wait long into the night.
I wrote in our blog yesterday that we had been approached by a US publisher to review some books. I agreed to do this because I felt it fitted with our ethos and aims. I want book shops and publishers to make money because I want real books to exist in the future. And I have also had a hope that our website might work with publishers in the long term: to get advanced copies to review and promote. This seems like the first step towards that goal. It’s all a part of the fun of doing this.
The publisher is TCKPublishing. They also want us to run a book giveaway on this site for the two books we will review. I’ll spend this week thinking about how to do this and put something together for our front page for next week. In the meantime, the covers for the two books are below. Click them if you’re interested. It will take you to their Amazon page.
Plans for Toriaz’s Street Library continue. She had me help her construct it a couple of weeks ago. Yesterday she asked for some help to start with the decoration. She also wanted a hole dug at the front of her house to see whether it was viable to put in a post to support the library (she has hard ground and a lot of tree roots at the front of her house) or whether we would need to build a brick plinth. I was able to help with the painting, but I took my son over to her place to do the digging, since my left and is still recovering from an injury earlier in the year.
Results: one hole dug worthy of a post and the first coat finished of the ‘Reading Project’ logo. More to come.
We were contacted by a publisher over the weekend asking whether we would review their books and offering to send us some. I wasn't sure whether they realise we live in Australia, so I've sent an email back explaining this and the very amateur status of our website. It would be interesting to do this if they're still willing. I'll make another blog post about it if it progresses any further.
Yesterday I went to do the weekly groceries. From time to time, Coles supermarket has promotions where you get miniatures, often plastic kids toys based on foods, but this time the promotion is little books. For each $30 you spend you get a tiny Treehouse book. A series of 24 books, each in sealed packs so you don’t know what you have until it’s opened, they are each a chapter from one of the Treehouse series by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton.
They are extremely tiny (see the picture with them placed under regular-sized versions of the Treehouse books). I suspect many parents would prefer to see money spent at the till providing reading for their kids rather than plastic to eventually end up as land fill. Well done, Coles. Hopefully it will inspire a few more young readers out there.
As I’ve written in earlier blog posts, I’ve recently acquired a nice hard back collection of Tove Jansson’s Moomin Series. They are books I read and loved as a kid and I now intend to read the set and review them for this site. So far, I have reviewed The Moomins and the Great Flood, Comet in Moominland and Moominpappa at Sea. I even found a Moomin jigsaw recently.
This morning Toriaz, another reviewer on this site, revealed she had ordered a Moomin coffee mug for me. I don’t drink coffee or tea, but it’s nice to collect things you like, so I really appreciated getting this beautiful mug. Thought I’d put up these pictures of it:
I decided to add a panel to our front page a week and a half ago: ‘Quote of the Week’. I did this after I read an article about the use of unidentified federal officers in Portland, Oregon, to deal with demonstrators. From a detached distance in Australia the action seems to have inflamed the situation rather than made things better. The decision by Trump to do this seemed to go against the very ideals of the Founding Fathers, as I understood them. The constitution holds the people to be sovereign. I followed my first quote with another from The Federalist Papers this week, reflecting upon the same situation. I also decided to create an archive of ‘Quotes of the Week’, since I thought it might be interesting to compile a quote list over time. The link for the archive is at the bottom of the ‘Quote of the Week’ panel on our front page, but for convenience, if you’re interested, it can also be found here.