Saturday, May 24, 2014

Catching up

It's Saturday morning and I am sitting, with my little pot of tea, having just sent Toby off to Goulburn with friends for a road race. A sleep-in would have been nice, but I can catch up on my blogging instead. I have had problems with my technology, that's the excuse for not posting, but there are ways to work around it, so here we are.

This year Wagga City Library held their first One Book One Wagga event. The One Book One Community idea isn't a new one, lots of places do it and now Wagga does it too. The idea is that the whole town reads the one title and then the author comes for a special dinner and other events.

I don't work at Wagga Library any more so I wasn't involved in the organisation. My team did contribute several book club kits so that our book clubs could read the book together, but otherwise, I was simply able to be a community member. I went to the launch, I read the book; Mark Dapin's Spirit House. I was all set to go to the gala dinner with friends when I had a call asking me to step in as compère after the ABC Radio fellow was injured (not in the studio!).

I do a fair bit of public speaking in my job and have been MC at little and big events, so I wasn't nervous about speaking in front of 100 people. I was, however, very nervous about having to come up with intelligent questions for Mark and being able to respond to the answers and make the whole thing flow well. I also had to skim the book again as I had finished it in February!

Thankfully, it went well. Mark Dapin is a journalist as well as an author, and has many funny stories of the people he has written profiles on over the years. The Gordon Ramsey story is legend and I recommend you read it and his other columns on his website - you may have read him in The Good Weekend, Sydney Morning Herald or The Age.

I wonder what I was talking about...

Having to hold a microphone and my questions kept over the top hand gestures to a minimum.

Spirit House is a very hard hitting novel, funny, but also horrifying, sad and ultimately hopeful. This is what I wrote on Goodreads, before I knew I would be speaking to the author:

Four and a half stars, we really need to be able to give half stars. It took me a little while to warm to the characters, to David's gruff Grandad and his rude friends, always down at the pub, but I slowly became very attached to them. This story is important, a personal history of Changi, the Thai Burma railway and the lasting impact of war. Tears were shed for these fictional characters and the people who really lived through the atrocities.
With so many larrikins, the horror was balanced with humour and it was a funny and very touching read.

 It was a really interesting experience. I wouldn't like to be an author, though. It makes you so very vulnerable, which is fascinating in such a tough fellow as Mark Dapin.

Last weekend Andrew took Toby to Junee for soccer and I drove Joss out to Big Springs for cycling. I haven't been out that way before; it was really beautiful.

Bethany knitted in the sun and I chatted to other parents for a while before rushing back to my book. I was right at the end of The Goldfinch so it was hard to be sociable. I won't make you read my review, you can see it on Goodreads if you want to!

I went to the cinema for the first time in around a year. I like movies, and there were plenty of films out at Christmas that I wanted to see, but I just never seem to go. Half of a Yellow Sun got me out on a Sunday evening. I read the book years ago and loved it. I love African fiction and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is one of the first Nigerian authors I really enjoyed. It's hard to judge the film on its own when you have read the book. My mind fills in the story, rounds it out, so that it is hard to tell if the film is doing a good job on that front. Chiwetel Ejiofor was in it (you may know him from 12 Years a Slave, Serenity or Love Actually) as well as Thandie Newton and Anika Noni Rose from The No. One Ladies' Detective Agency. It is set before and during the Biafran War and uses maps and original newsreel footage to give us a picture of the situation. Of course, some changes were made and much was left out, but on the whole I think they did a stellar job with a brilliant book.

Today, Bethany has a violin concert. Hopefully I won't be too long in posting about that.