Saturday, 10 June 2017

“But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.”

I suppose it's a little late now - but then again it's never too late to pick up a classic (as I am duly learning), but the play 1984 that has just (literally just) closed in Melbourne was amazing and you should have seen it/I'm so glad that you saw it! It was, as the name suggests an adaptation of Orwell's dystopian classic. The production originated in the UK but arrived in Melbourne this year with an Australian cast. The gentleman who plays the un/lovable Winston, actually also held the titular role of Jasper Jones in the production of Jasper Jones last year. What a guy! 

I believe that this production was quite different to those put on previously (alas I can't say that I know first hand) as the directors included the appendix in the play. Not so obviously tacked on at the end of course but built into it neatly. Reading the program and the comments from the writer it of course makes sense - after all, the history is not 'truth' per se but part of the fictitious narrative Orwell so thoroughly crafted. If you can't tell I loved it and the book! It will be interesting then I suppose to see how the Handmaid's Tale will tackle the historical note in the TV series. 

I will confess that we only bought tickets the week before we went to see it so sadly missed out on the $30 for under 30s but never mind. This last buying also alerted me to the fact that I hadn't actually read 1984 before despite it being under my bed for about two years - and I work in a bookshop! So I went into frenzy mode of quick read it as I tried to beat the clock. In the end I got half way (and was holding the text in the theatre, ironically the Comedy Theatre) as we were walking into our seats. In hindsight, it was actually a good thing because it was familiar enough for me to appreciate the quotes from the book, understand the premise to minimise staging confusion and just avoid feeling like a total novice. But not knowing the second half (like, at all) I wasn't expecting the violence, fear or surprise which honestly made the whole message of the novel hit a lot harder. Which was terrifying but also really cool. Moral of the story read half of books only. Joking, I quickly read the rest after. I went with some friends and we had to have a massive debrief on the train home.

Additional to the excitement and enjoyment of watching the play it [NERD ALERT] made me rerealise how important media is in learning and understanding why the world is like it is, and more so why words are more than just communication but instead represent entire systems and ways of living - taking Newspeak as an example. It also made me miss when I used to study literature in school when you would pore over a single text for a term just debating every theme and symbol. Even if you made stuff up half the time, it didn't matter because it just proved that there were so many layers of meaning in the text. Even now when I'm studying media, it's interesting to consider different media as important, not necessarily the content itself but why it's significant as a representation and reflection of the time that it was created in. 

Basically, the point of this mini epiphany is that I am now dedicated to starting a book club where we will first tackle 20th century classics because I have read too little! I did read Animal Farm the other day too and it did not disappoint. But I digress, apparently Ulysses is too hardcore for a book club but it'd be a little bit awesome if we worked on it a few chapters at a time. Being in a book club also forces you to be accountable for actually reading the book! 

I love that lots of our classics are my dad's from the 70s with yellowing pages but I want to start building my own collection too! 

So far I an keeping a keen eye out for the Annotated Edition of 1984 published by Modern Classics - I love those editions, and the play script of the 1984 play. I can't wait!


















Here is a super link to the production's education resource if you'd like to find out more about the play itself. Spoilers though. 

What classic have you missed but promised yourself you'd read (for the past five years...)?

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Why Worry About Doomsday when you have Bloomsday?

Forgive me if I'm jumping the gun a little bit but I think that it's an appropriate time to get excited about Bloomsday 2017! For those of you who are not sure what I'm talking about - is this about flowers and gardening? - Bloomsday is a day long celebration of James Joyce's master masterpiece Ulysses. Originating in Dublin (as only natural) the celebration has since spread to other parts of the world. Dress ups, recitations everything you could possibly have that's Leopold Bloom related. Side note, what is the relevance of the Producers film/musical also having a protagonist called Leo Bloom? And I have also seen ads for a flower company called Bialystock and Bloom. But I digress. 

Bloomsday has been celebrated since 1994 by a very dedicated group of lasses and lads. You can find out more about them by clicking the photo. 

http://www.bloomsdayinmelbourne.org.au/

Oh! It would probably help if you knew the actual dates of Blomsday for this year so it is happening from the 14-18 of June. Definitely check out the website for more specific information but highlights this year include a play called Getting Up James Joyce's Nose which sounds delightful really, and it's on at the Spiegletent so you know it'll be good. 

So what is Ulysses about? 
Well as the ever helpful Goodreads tells us, 'Ulysses, one of the greatest novels of the twentieth century, has had a profound influence on modern fiction. In a series of episodes covering the course of a single day, 16 June 1904, the novel traces the movements of Leopold Bloom and Stephen Dedalus through the streets of Dublin. Each episode has its own literary style, and the epic journey of Odysseus is only one of many correlations that add layers of meaning to the text. Ulysses has been the subject of controversy since copies of the first English edition were burned by the New York Post Office Authorities.' That doesn't sound terribly gripping I know but the style was revolutionary and any book that was burned upon publication merits some sort of second look right? PS. Is this a good time to mention that I haven't read it yet? (There are so many books, especially in a bookshop that it's hard to keep track. Today I inadvertently sold a book that I kind of wanted to a customer.) 

If you'd like to read more about reading Ulysses you can do so with theses:

The Guardian: Is James Joyce's Ulysses the hardest novel to finish?
The Economist: James Joyce's "Ulysses"Why you should read this book
Sparknotes (because who doesn't love it?): Ulysses
The New York Review of Books: It's Still a Scandal

And if you're looking for the 1967 film then you can read a review here


Saturday, 6 May 2017

Does your mother remind you about Mothers Day?

Mothers Day is coming up! And we have conveniently moved all of those pesky (no we love them) down a shelf!

It's not just mothers who can be celebrated on Mothers day - close friends, aunties, grandmothers, the list goes on!

 

Saturday, 15 April 2017

This is Real This is Me

When you peruse the biography section it is only natural that  you come across a wide variety of stories, lives and experiences. Some are about hardships and overcoming challenges, some are muses on life and others about a life full or half lived. I'll be honest with you when I say that the first thing I do when I pick up a biography is to flip to the middle, glossy white coloured section that has all of the photographs or pictures of the said life. I find that it's a good summary about what you'll sort of find in the book. Maybe I'm just a lazy reader! Or maybe a pictorial learner.. 

Anyway we have two somewhat juxtaposing titles to share today. 

Dear Quentin, Letters of A Governor General
Apparently she wrote 50 letters a week...





You can read more about the book here

My Life as Eva, The Struggle is Real   
Sharing the inside thoughts of Eva Gutowski, Youtuber!


Saturday, 18 March 2017

Feel The Music

It makes sense that you listen with your ears to music - after all, that's what it's there for, but using your hearing receptacles are not the only way to enjoy it!

It popped up again on the ABC a few weeks ago (and from a few years before that) - the work of Amber Galloway Gallego. In fact, she is a pioneer of the industry, signing in real time - not just the words but the situations - of the music! 

See more here, video from the ABC article

video

But it is definitely interesting and important to consider how all of us 'listen' to music.
And of course, if you're not going to listen to music you can always read about it!

Some of our top picks are:

DIG by David Nichols
"The period from 1960 to 1985 saw Australia casting off its colonial cultural shackles and taking on the world. Dig is the first in depth account of the massive upsurge in musical creativity that swept the country during those years, and David Nichols is the perfect guide, combining scholarly research with narrative flair in this enthralling and authoritative history." [from the blurb] 





EVERY SONG EVER by Ben Ratcliff

'A remarkable new book ... goes leaping from Beethoven to Big Black, from Morton Feldman to Curtis Mayfield, identifying continuities while delighting in contrasts' Alex Ross, New Yorker
For the first time ever, we have all the music in the world to choose from. As Ben Ratliff, one of America's celebrated music critics, shows us, it's time to listen in a new way too. Opening our ears to unexpected connections, new experiences and little-known delights, this book will change the way you appreciate music forever.
'Masterly ... An instructive guide to opening one's mind and compiling a new kind of playlist ... succeeds brilliantly' John Clarke, Independent
'Smart, provocative ... in every case informative' August Kleinzahler, The New York Times Book Review
'Like a trip into the world's coolest record store' David Browne, Rolling Stone


Both of these books are sure to have your toes tapping and songs stuck in your head in no time

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Why Can't You Give Your Presence for your Present?

Since working at a bookshop, I've given almost every single person a book for their birthday. *Hot tip, if you want a new book invite me to your party ;) But anyway, moving on, it's both the lazy and non lazy approach because anyone who has had to buy a book as a present knows how many ways it can go a little bit wrong. The problem is, when you know them and are friends (clearly, you're celebrating with them) but you are just short of that knowledge of what is it that they have on their shelf. You find yourself questioning everything: do they need a book about hats? have I ever seen them wearing hats? who is their favourite characters from history? what is their favourite cuisine? do they even like reading?! And the list goes on. Well, my friends, here are some of my tips for choosing a book as a present! Goodness knows I need all the help I can get!

PRESENT FOR A MILESTONE BIRTHDAY
  • Not to be picky but I think in these instances, hardcover really does give the gift an extra layer of special(ness) 
  • I tend to go with non-ficton here because unless it's a classic, I feel like it ages less quickly as something you can keep on your shelf and keep referring too over the years
  • Especially if it's about a subject that the receiver really likes - there are some pretty specific categories out there!
  • Sometimes it's hard to know what kind of book they'd lean towards but in the event that you have absolutely no idea, I usually look in the biography or coffee table book section, be it history, photography or other general interest. 
  • But think outside the square! Where did they go for their holiday recently? What do you do together? That might help you to think of some ideas
PRESENT FOR A CHILD (who you may or may not know)
  • I think I've somewhat covered this before in a previous post so let's deal with selecting presents for kids you don't know  
  • The first question focuses on you: what kind of book do you want to get for them? Fiction (and if so: serious, challenging, funny, to increase their confidence - it's all up to you), an activity book perhaps, a picture book or if they're under five - something for them to play with now or keep for later?
  • Once you've identified that a friendly staff member will help you pick out something fitting!

Of course it would be much easier if your present could just be your presence
 

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Marching Towards Better Design

It is officially, one hundred percent now March. Uni is back, school is in full swing and your holiday tan may or may not have already worn off (say hi to your melanin for me) so it seems that all is normal in the world. Actually not all is normal because the hot weather seems to be coming now but indeed that is an issue for another time. 

But do not despair! Because March contains one of the swishest festival/weeks of the year! That is, MELBOURNE DESIGN WEEK from 16-26 March!

 Organised by the NGV, it's a week of talks, exhibitions, book launches and events!

Here of some of my picks (all blurbs from the NGV website):

PANEL: Does Blak Design Matter
As Australian Indigenous designers are leading a movement away from collaborative or consultative models to Indigenous-led design, the question is posed; what is meaningful Indigenous design, and why does it matter? From interior and product design to landscape, architecture and town planning, this panel, hosted by Daniel Browning, examines the practices of some outstanding Indigenous designers and interrogates how Indigenous design is defined, received, and made visible in Australia’s contemporary design environment. 



Open State: Planex Tour
Presented by Open House Melbourne
Take a tour of one of Victoria’s leading steel furniture manufacturers to see robotics and automation in action. An Australian family owned furniture designer with over 40 years experience manufacturing steel furniture, Planex demonstrate a commitment to designed-in longevity with the ability to reuse, reconfigure and recycle. They like to call this ‘built-out obsolescence’ which forms the basis of their design philosophy. Designed by Inarc Architects and winner of the RAIA ‘Best Commercial Building: 2004’, Planex’s 7000m2 purpose built, solar powered production facility has become a benchmark for Australian manufacturing. Presented by Planex the tour will run for 45 minutes and feature the product showroom, manufacturing plant, steel punching line, powder coat line, followed by coffee and tea with an opportunity to meet designers and architectural consultants.

HIGH RISK DRESSING / CRITICAL FASHION PARTY
Presented by RMIT Design HubRMIT Design Hub are hosting a special celebration for the exhibition High Risk Dressing / Critical Fashion as part of Melbourne Design Week. The party includes D&K’s performance All or Nothing and a live DJ set by Andras & Lewis Fidock, presenters of RRR’s Strange Holiday. High Risk Dressing / Critical Fashion looks at the ideas and community coalescing within contemporary fashion practice today through the lens of Melbourne’s Fashion Design Council (1983 – 1993). The exhibition also features a new ‘collective’ of contemporary fashion practitioners that activate the space through a program of fashion presentations, performances, films, publications and residencies

And finally, to cap things off, the annual Melbourne Art Book Fair!

This fair has books from a myriad of independent, cutting edge and international art book publishers. 





It's a bit hard to explain so just get down there and check it out for yourself!