It's New Year's Eve and life has been travelling at a quickened pace for sometime, though I have found time to do lots of reading due to a few days where I was sidelined getting tests at the hospital (I have a cyst on my ovary, nothing too serious). We spent Christmas with family and got some lovely and thoughtful gifts including a Moleskine address book, a beautiful fountain pen (above) and a Hemingway book, True at First Light. We also went and saw Australian singer/ songwriter Darren Hanlon at the Powerhouse on the 23rd for his last Christmas gig. Hanlon was fantastic and we were introduced to American folk songwriter David Dondero, his support act ,who writes wonderful witty but charming songs (we bought three of his CDs).
On the reading front, I have just finished reading Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh, it is no Brideshead, but I enjoyed it immensely. I read True at First Light, a fictionalised memoir of Hemingway's time in Africa published posthumously and edited by Hem's son Patrick. It is what it is, an unfinished novel, but very interesting but I feel that this one is for Hemingway fans only. Certainly not in the same league as his other fictionalised travel memoirs like Festiva: The Sun also Rises or A Movable Feast. And last night I finished Persuasion by Jane Austen. It was compelling reading and I always love the many ways she has to describe a characters worth and social standing, i.e. manners, breeding, education, eloquence, attractiveness etc. It is very charming. I avoided English romantic fiction and Victorian literature like the plague when I was an undergraduate. I had a sneaking suspicion that only sickly-looking virginal girls who lived with their over-controlling parents read Austen and the Brontes. But over the last few years my position has not only softened, but changed substantially as I have read more widely and realised my preconceptions/ prejudices were based (unfairly) on interactions with several girls in first year lit tutorials.
And now to the mystery of the free book. Amanda Curtin's The Sinkings appeared in the mail this week. There was no return address on the padded envelope and inside the front cover was a slip of paper printed with the University of Western Australia's letter head and the words "with compliments" and no further explanation. I am all for free books turning up in the mail, but I don't for the life of me know how I would be on the University of Western Australia's mailing list for anything, let alone complimentary books. And the envelope was addressed to my new married name (which I have only had since the end of September), so clearly they have gotten my address recently. But how? Curious and curiouser.
Have a great New Years and if you have time check out Graham Nunn's blog, another lost shark, as he goes through a list of Poetry Picks for 2011 chosen by various poets and reviewers. Some great books so far on the list, including Michelle Dicinoski's Electricity for Beginners, a book that I really enjoyed and have just written a review for (will let you know if it gets published).
And finally I thought I would share this great little clip of What are you Doing New Years Eve? by Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (fond via FourThousand).