Books, etc, featured, Oscar Wilde, Words are important, World domination

A few uncensored thoughts about Dorian Gray…

Dorian Gray was blond with blue eyes, not that you would know from this book cover.

The Picture of Dorian Gray has always been, for me, a disappointing novel. Oscar Wilde is one of my favourites, and his importance should not be under-estimated, but there is a distinct dearth of great works from the man. (There are reasons or excuses for this, and he did die young, I know, I know. Still, what has he left behind for us to enjoy? The equivalent of a few tweets compared to PG Wodehouse, Henry James, Tara Moss.) Dorian Gray was the one novel, and there were gems of brilliance set in a flawed, malleable ring of barbed wire. For every glorious page or passage there was an equal and opposite piece of shit elsewhere. Exaggeration? Maybe, but for years I haven’t been able to look at the book on the shelf without that mixed, bitter and slightly heartbroken feeling usually reserved for love letters from old girlfriends. Yes we had some good times, but it ended badly and you took too much time out of my life reading you twice when I could have been reading other, younger, books or just hooking up for yet another one night stand with the Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy.

But that feeling of disappointment is no more. Thanks to Nicholas Frankel, who has brought us an “uncensored” version of Wilde’s original manuscript, it’s an enjoyable and cohesive read. It’s a lot shorter, at 13 chapters instead of 20. The crap’s been left out, frankly.

Me just lying around the apartment in Bangkok, dressed for the weather, thinking about writing and shit.

Much has been made of the inclusions and the restoration of the romance between Dorian, Basil and Lord Henry. But for me what makes it work is the absence of extraneous chapters involving James Vane, opium dens and whatnot, not to mention a few tedious social set pieces. I’m the first to bitch about Wilde not having written enough great works to deserve his overblown reputation, but in the case of Dorian Gray, less is more. It’s a better read for the exclusions. And, yes, having the romance more explicit and excised passages restored does add to the enjoyment.

So I can stop bitching. At least a little bit. Thanks to Frankel, finally, 120 years later, Oscar Wilde has published a decent novel.

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#mwf, Books, etc, Melbourne Writers Festival, Michael Robotham, Review, Val McDermid, Words are important

Things that make you go boom

Being a Monday, this should be a leftovers for lunch segment. But there are leftovers in the form of intentions to write some posts, and failing to find time.

Settling into a new country is fun, but instead of banging on about that here’s the first of the reviews I promised earlier in the month: Michael Robotham’s Bombproof.

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#ausvotes, apocalypse, Books, Covers, Election, etc, Jessica Rudd, Melbourne Writers Festival, Review, Words are important

What pisses me off most about Jessica Rudd’s book …

The book I don't hate.

What pisses me off most about Jessica Rudd’s book is that I don’t hate it. Not that I love it, either, mind you.

Campaign Ruby annoys me in many ways. Mostly because it’s not shit. Okay, bits of it are. (Not that I’m perfect.) But it’s a well-built, if slow to start, model that navigates familiar roads capably, and takes a few scenic detours without any sense of danger. It is to literature what Honda CR-Vs are to motoring. Not inspiring, not offensive, made for soccer mom.

This novel plays it so safe that Rudd, the daughter of former Labor PM Kevin, will not even name the real Australian political parties. The one her protagonist, Ruby Stanhope, works for is not even named. And its colour is purple – a safe mix of Labor red and Liberal blue. How weak is that?

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#mwf, Books, etc, Melbourne is cold, Melbourne Writers Festival, Words are important, World domination

By the bar at #mwf …

Mohezin Tejani

Quite a few of the free Melbourne Writers Festival (hereafter known only as #mwf) events are at Feddish, awkwardly located in part of that awkward part of the city, Federation Square. Plonked, I found myself this afternoon, on an unfortunately shaped, and disconcertingly high, wicker chair by the bar. Soda water with a hint of ginger ale carefully laid to my left, pen handy, knowing not what to expect from Mohezin Tejani, in conversation with Angela Meyer (@LiteraryMinded).

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apocalypse, Books, Covers, etc, John Birmingham, Melbourne is cold, Words are important, World domination

The Birmingham issues …

A publicity shot. To be used solely for publicity and promotion. Apparently.

Without warning, the rain fell as I was on my way to the designated target. The Wheeler Centre, to see John Birmingham on a cold and bitter Melbourne evening. But my wimpishness was only reinforced when, having braved a bit of winter rain on the arduous trek up the hill, the man otherwise known as @JohnBirmingham spoke about tough action heroes. Action heroes who happen to be women. So the fact I cared about having wet, oily hair just seemed, how do I put this nicely, weak.

Do not misinterpret this as a sexist comment, please. Well aware that there are many women who could roundly and soundly kick my arse, the talk of Buffy, Ripley, and Birmingham’s killer characters Jules and Caitlin made me feel just a little, teeny-weeny bit like a girl.

UPDATE: Now with link to Wheeler Centre’s video!!!

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