Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Snow Petrel - to Antarctica in a 34 foot yacht

The journey that Snow Petrel, a 34 foot yacht made deep into the Southern Ocean, all the way to the mythical landmass of Antarctica one Summer makes for a textured, intriguing, exhilarating story. Yes, I admit I have a passion for all things nautical and I love the way how, so often in our everyday speech, we find ourselves out to sea; we set course, we change tack, we don't like the cut of someone's jib, we make things shipshape.
   'Snow Petrel' is riddled with nauticalia - but it also a well constructed travel narrative of an amazing adventure that has a good dollop of both history and geography. The author Jon Tucker, the  "cabin boy," and father of the skipper Ben and other crewmate Matt, narrates the story with a gentle and interested tone. He cuts from his version of a log, to a personal history of 40 years on the water - and a greater historical narrative of 95 years of Antarctic exploration.
   The trip across the Southern Ocean was immaculately researched and planned for - and the story takes us through some of these preparations through fields of ice, the Roaring Forties, Furious Fifties - to I don't even know what the winds that surge through the latitudes of the Sixties are called to the windiest place on earth, Commonwealth Bay, landmass Antactica, Mawson's hut - and all the way back to Southern Tasmania.
 "Just lucky I had two sons who were prepared to take their old man along," says Jon, author, father, sailor, as he recounts some of the story of the trip. These recollections include the most beautiful sights these men have ever seen, colours shining through fields of seemingly unnavigable ice. There are stories of being incarcerated by winds of 80-110 knots, held captive by sea-ice, tales of the introverted stage of an ocean passage when everything contracts, a world devoid of colour outside of white and grey - and empty of sound, outside of Penguin noises and the tones of the yacht. Jon tells of the onboard library as vital, the books as "sanity savers," and he tells of a knock down and the loss of the best bolognaise of the journey.  Listen to the full interview by clicking here. Seriously; please do, it's an amazing story - oh! and read the book too.

Snow Petrel
by Jon Tucker
40 Degrees South
9780980533262

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Charlotte Wood discusses 'Animal People'


Animal People was one of my favourite reads last year - and also an introduction to the writing of Charlotte Wood. It is a mature and insightful book and it is beautifully written I spoke to Charlotte late last year about this book and Stephen, the returned protagonist from her earlier novel The Children. You can listen to the interview here.
The book opens oppresively with Stephen on a sweltering morning, Sydney high summer and a sense of forboding  is apparent from the first page. We learn that today is the day that Stephen is going to break up with his girlfriend, for reasons that seem to be beyond even his own comprehension.
  Stephen is a man who chooses to reject things, in some instances simply to be a contrarian says Charlotte. She admires this in people, those who "step away from the wheel of aspiration or status."  Stephen has no career ambitions, a risky state for contemporary man to inhabit.
  The story is condensed in to a single day in his life- and is laden with detail, it builds  in rich layers as the sticky, humid day progresses. The prism of the day forces the detail to be tightly wrought - indeed, it is observation, paying attention and a knack for getting detail right that Wood talks about here on her post on Damon Young's blog darkly wise, rudely great. She mentions how Iris Murdoch said "that paying attention is in itself a moral act," a notion which resonates for me; a gentle yet insistent chime.
  The animals - and the animal people of the title are a recurring motif. Charlotte discusses this in our interview -"a fear of animals is a fear of chaos, a fear of life."
Animal People
by Charlotte Wood
Allen and Unwin 2010

9781742376851
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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Tastey Recyclibrary

The Inaugural Recyclibary
The Recyclibrary launched on P(ark)ing Day last year in a parking space outside the wonderful Hobart bakery Jackman and McCross. There were shelves packed with books, a date stamped dialled up and ready to go, and Miss Wimple, the head library was accompanied by many of her assistants including Mr (Dr?) Dewey Decimal, Josie, the Aquarian Librarian and myself, Miss Paige Turner.
    You can find more information here and here and here.
   Since the inaugural Recyclibrary, there have been a number of incarnations including a pre Christmas Elizabeth Street Mall appearance where the shelves were stripped bare. Today, fully restocked with a new and innovative catalogue we will be arriving at the Taste of Tasmania at around 1pm to set up to lend and accept returns.

Watch this space as the afternoon progresses to hear (nearly) live vox pops from new and old Recyclibrarian patrons:


First up this afternoon I chatted with Laura who borrowed four books. You can listen to her chat a little bit more about her borrowing choices here

Next up I had a bit of a yarn with Calvin. he was a young chap and he was checking out a copy of the latest Percy Jackson book (by Rick Riordan). He was a very articulate young fellow and you will enjoy listening to him explain his reading choice here.


Next up were Katy and Frazer from the UK via Sydney. We chatted about E books and our desire in the future to lend Ebooks. Listen to the full conversation here
Top - Katy and Frazer from Sydney
Bottom - Young Calvin with the latest in the Percy Jackson series.

Paige Turner - November

I have recently had the good fortune to experience the wonders of reading and writing in our broader region. I travelled to Bali for the As...