November 2023

Blog Archive - December 2023

Raymond Chandler

1 December 2023

An interview with Raymond Chandler

Some circumstances last month made it difficult to publish the next instalment of Michael Duffy’s series of ‘interviews’ with the Great Writers. This month we have gotten there. Michael has contributed his article about interviewing Raymond Chandler in 1946.

Of course, Michael hasn’t really interviewed Chandler. If you’ve missed the premise of this series of articles for the Great Writers Project, these are fictional accounts of meetings with famous writers based on known information about them and things they actually said.

You can visit the project page, which will give you access to all four articles currently available, by clicking here.

Or you can go directly to the page for Raymond Chandler by clicking here.

We’ve also published a review for Chandler’s first novel, The Big Sleep. You can go directly to that review by clicking here.

- bikerbuddy

2 December 2023

Conquering the classics in twenty minutes a day

Click the Serial Reader icon to visit their site

This is not a paid promotion! I have recently discovered this app and have enjoyed using it.

Conquering the classics in twenty minutes a day: this is the claim made by Serial Reader, an app that feeds you bite sized bits of classic books every day. I’ve been testing it recently and have managed to finish five classics using it, with just a small commitment of time each day.

I started with the free version of the app and selected ‘The Adventure of the Speckled Band’ by Arthur Conan Doyle to test the concept. I chose this story because it was short and because I’d already read it several times. I reasoned that if I didn’t like this method of reading, it wouldn’t worry me to abandon it as I already know what happens. Even though it’s a short story, the app still serialised it into four issues, one delivered to me every day. I read the first two days’ issues, then deliberately left the next issue for a few days to see what would happen. Nothing happened. But when I next opened the app I had the last two issues waiting for me.

Since then I’ve read The Turn of the Screw (on my TBR ever since I watched The Haunting of Bly Manor a few years ago), The Boxcar Children, The Leavenworth Case, The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. My current read is Walden which has been serialised over 48 issues. Even though the app says each daily issue will take twenty minutes a day, so far the longest issue I’ve read has been listed as fourteen minutes, and many of them have been only eight to ten minutes. Today’s Walden issue is nine minutes.

All the books on the app are in the public domain (that is currently books published in 1927 or earlier) but the app also has the facility to add in your own EPUB books and have them serialised for you. I might try this one day, but at the moment the appeal of the app for me is finally reading classics that I’ve been long intending to read but have either never got around to, or which I find a little intimidating to start with (I’m looking at you, Les Misérables - at small doses of over 233 issues, I might finally get around to reading you). I also like the idea that I’m reading some of these books in the way they were originally published, as was common in the nineteenth century, even if I get my issues daily instead of having to wait a week for the next newspaper.

- Toriaz

16 December 2023

It's that time of year again!

Me at Harry Hartogs , looking like a child set loose in a toy store

It’s just over a week before Christmas and once again I have been put in charge of buying the book presents for family. I managed to select a few at Harry Hartogs in Penrith last week, but I still have a couple more to select. It may require a train trip into Sydney sometime this week to look at the larger bookstores.

And after a fairly disrupted year I am beginning to feel like I’m getting into a rhythm again. Last week I published my review of Dombey and Son. Later this morning I will be publishing my review of this year’s Booker Prize winner, Prophet Song by Paul Lynch. My honest opinion is that I would have preferred The Bee Sting by Paul Murray to have won. But despite its fairly well-trodden dystopian landscape, Prophet Song is really well written, and applies the genre to contemporary events well.

Also, my review for Prophet Song is our 600th published review on the Reading Project (not counting other material published as Special Projects), which means it’s our 596 title reviewed, since we’ve written two reviews for four titles. It was a good milestone to get to by the end of the year, since our year has made it more difficult to get reviews done in 2023.

I’d like to specifically thank those who contributed to this website in 2023. Michael Duffy, a local author here in the Blue Mountains, has single-handedly brought the Great Writers project to this site and we hope to see more of his work in the New Year. His ‘interview’ with W.H. Auden will be published on New Year’s Day.

We’ve also had two people contribute reviews to this site for the first time this year. Thanks to Umbritzer for your reviews this year. They introduced us to books we may never have come in contact with. I hope things go well for you in the New Year. And thanks to Skep for his entertaining review of The Canterbury Tales.

Finally, I would like to thank Bojan the Librarian for your continued support of this site since 2022. Your interests have added variety to this website and given us insights into books I hadn’t heard of. And thank you to Mike of NoHappyNonsense for your supportive words. It was appreciated!

In case I don’t write in this blog again before the end of the year, I’d like to say I hope everyone has a good holiday season and we all have a better year next year! It may be naïve, but the Greeks really did get it right in some of their myths: sometimes hope is what we have.

- bikerbuddy

January 2024