Tuesday, October 29, 2013


... cannot describe how much I enjoyed this article by Annabel Crabb on women on TV and make-up. If you like this little taster - 
"How did we get to the point, as an evolutionary species, where a woman who is intending to appear on television must first have her face coloured in by another human being, working intently at very close range, sometimes for up to 90 minutes? The experience itself is one of the most intimate encounters one can have - outside the medical, massage and cottaging fields - with a person one is not actually dating"
- then you will too.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Summer Reading Suggestions (even though it's not really summer)

I've been reading a fair bit lately and while there have been some books I've not enjoyed it feels like, for a change, I've enjoyed rather a lot of the books that have come my way - a pleasant surprise. So although it's technically not exactly summer it's close enough that you should all be thinking about books to curl up with in the Christmas holidays. These, for what they're worth, are my recommendations.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
The plot to this sounds like the kind of thing that would normally make me retch: a young woman goes to work for a quadriplegic who wants to die and tries to liven up his life. There's a good reason I have never read Tuesday's With Morrie, you know - sentimentality is tedious. But this is a gorgeous book and I devoured it.

Big Brother by Lionel Shriver
The premise of this book is that the protagonist goes to the airport to pick up her brother and finds out, to her horror, that he has gained hundreds of pounds since she saw him last. The book that follows from that premise is fascinating for anyone who is interested in the relationship between people and food and society and weight. I make it sound boring but it's a cracking read and - for my money - Shriver's best since the wonderful The Post Birthday World.

Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight
This book stood out to me because someone had likened it to Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn's insanely addictive thriller that would be on this list except everyone's been talking about it for so long that I assume you've probably either read it or deliberately avoided it. It's not really like Gone Girl except that it requires a mystery to be solved and I don't think it's as cleverly put together but the story, which follows a mother's efforts to discover why her daughter threw herself off a building, is nonetheless compelling.

Night Film by Marisha Pesel
I had high hopes for this novel about a disgraced journalist who starts to investigate a prominent film director in the wake of the suicide of the director's daughter. Pesel's first book, Special Topics in Calamity Physics, had a lot of promise but fell a bit short of being a great book and I figured that this time around she probably had her shit together. Sadly, this contained some of the same shortcomings and it's not the great novel it could have been. Still, I would recommend for anyone planning on lounging by the pool with a cocktail in the foreseeable future.

Tampa by Alissa Nutting
This is one of those books that will probably wind up on book club lists and appal some people. It's been billed as Lolita told from a female perspective (a female teacher who likes to sleep with 14 year old boys) but, to be frank, that's an oversell: it's well written but nowhere near as funny and audacious and poetic as that book. But it is a slightly filthy romp that I tore through in an afternoon and think you could too.

The Last Letter From Your Lover by Jojo Moyes
It seems like cheating to include two novels by Moyes but reading Me Before You made me want to explore her back catalogue and this was the one I started with. The book is packaged very much as chick lit but if it falls into that category then it's one of the best examples of the genre. It's not a Great Novel and history will probably forget it but it completely entranced and charmed me while I was reading it and that's not something I can say about too many books.

The Dinner by Herman Koch
I'm a bit out of date with this one, since I think everyone was sort of talking about it a year or so ago, which was around about when I read it. For some reason, though, I've been thinking about it again lately, which is always a sign that a book has stayed with you. Despite being set in The Netherlands the set up - a couple go out for dinner to talk about... what? - is familiar enough to draw you in and the ultimate reveal is... well. Yikes. I loved it.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


That's the word count milestone I've finally cracked on my Terrible Novel. Unfortunately the novel is still terrible but fuck it: I told myself I would finish it, regardless of how much I inevitably grew to hate it and I'm sticking to that game plan. I don't even hate it that much. Not all the time anyway. To conclude: yay me.

Things that suck about being sick on my holidays

1. I'm sick on my holidays.

2. The cash I had earmarked for something indulgent like a manicure or a haircut has been spent on cold meds and anti-inflammatory drugs.

3. I feel faintly blerg all the time but don't feel like I can justify staying in bed because I should be doing All The Things.

4. My pockets and bags are filled with tissues in various states of use.

5. I'm sick on my goddamn holidays.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Movies I am currently watching to cheer me up a little bit after Atonement

1. Celeste and Jesse Forever. Actually it's a little bit depressing too but it's funny and cute and I think my Andy Samberg crush is back with a vengeance.

Movies I have watched today that made me cry and cry and cry some more.

1. Atonement. Fuck. James McEvoy - only you could make me care about a movie with Pouty McPoutface as your love interest. (Also, I don't think I'm being blinded by lust but he does seem like quite a lovely chap, no?)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Things I Did Today:

1. Removed some tiles from the kitchen of the house I am attempting to renovate.
2. Fell through the hole in the floorboards of said kitchen.
3. Wrenched my shoulder.
4. Cut my leg in several nasty places.
5. Scraped my soft, innocent bottom.
6. Bled on my shoes.
7. Bled on the floor.
8. Destroyed a pair of Leona Edmiston stockings.
9. Humiliated myself in front of the property surveyor who witnessed several of the above acts.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

"There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands' necks. Anything can happen. You can even get a full glass of beer at a cocktail lounge." (Raymond Chandler, "The Red Wind")

Thursday, October 3, 2013


Reader, today has been a shitty day in a shitty week. A big story I have been working on for weeks has fallen over. I have too much to do and not enough time to do it. It looks like I may be out of the State for my birthday, and not for fun times but work-related travel.

Then two things happened. 

The first thing that happened was that someone I was dealing with was helpful. It's actually that simple. You wouldn't believe how many unhelpful dickheads I have to deal with on a regular basis, sometimes because they're, well, dickheads, sometimes because they're just normal people with busy lives. But I called someone up to ask them for a favour and they not only said yes but were sweet about it and made a bad situation easier.

The second thing that happened was that a friend of mine sent me a photo of a homeless guy curled up on a bench in the CBD wearing really really shitty shoes that were so old and worn through which you could see his feet through the soles. Like A LOT of his feet: he was practically barefoot. My friend took the photo because someone had bought a new pair of shoes (the tissue paper was still stuffed in the toes of the shoes) and put them beside the homeless guy for him to find when he wakes up. It's not a life changer. A pair of shoes isn't going to get the guy off the streets. They're not going to solve his problems, except for that problem he has with his current pair of shitty shoes. The shoes weren't even that amazing - they looked like  pair of inexpensive Dunlop Volleys or something pretty basic. 

But it was a sweet, kind, generous gesture that will hopefully make that guy's day a little bit easier. He might wake up a bit happier not just because he has a new pair of shoes but because he's had a little reminder that there are nice people in the world who will help others just for funsies. It also make me feel like, well, kind of a dick for whining about being sooooo busy with this job that pays my bills and sooooo frustrated at having to take an interstate trip to stay in a nice hotel. Quite possibly I've become a goddamn softie in my old age. No that's not a tear in my eye I've been cutting onions. Many onions.

Baby, no.

You may or may not have seen this story today about a toddler found dead in the back of a car a day care centre. Clearly it's way too early to say what happened to the kid. But it reminded of this amazing Washington Post article I read years ago and have thought about often since. It is a Pullitzer Prize winning article and maaaan does it feel like it. This is a story that stays with you and one you should read if you feel like feeling sad for a bit.