Saturday, 7 May 2011

Don't Read This Book Just Before You Go To Sleep!

S.J. Watson's Before I Go to Sleep is a cerebral thriller, the sort that compels you to keep reading to see how the author will handle his topic, as much as for how the story will unfold.

Christine wakes up, in a strange room next to a strange man, with no memory of how she got there. In the bathroom she sees photographs of him, labelled as her husband - and also sees that she has aged. Every day of her life she wakes up and she doesn’t know where she is, what has happened or who she’s with, and her husband has to remind her all over again. But when she finds that she is leaving secret notes for herself, and is keeping a journal hidden from him, the flashes of dreams and impressions she experiences throughout the day start to coalesce into a vivid and horrifying uncertainty even worse than her persistent amnesia.

At times quite creepy - especially as you start to understand what is probably happening before the character does - the suspense and cleverness of the narration make for a great read! Lindy

Click here to read what inspired S.J. Watson to write Before I Go to Sleep.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

The Vogel Award 2011

Wednesday night and off to the Vogel Award. This year was different, in that the premier literary award for an unpublished manuscript (with part of the prize being publication the following year) was announced the day before the book was available to buy. Hooray, say the booksellers; every one of us there have had the inevitable phone call the next day at work along the lines of "have you got the Vogel winner?" as there is always someone who didn't hear the bit about it being awarded to an unpublished work…

The award was announced by Tim Winton. I've been fortunate enough to have heard him speak a few times and Tim is the only man in the room who thinks he's no good at public speaking! He told of being awarded the Vogel back in 1981, of dining at Len Evans' establishment (wearing a borrowed pure polyester lounge suit in beige and with 'lapels as wide as verandahs'), of the cultural shock of coming from Charles Court's state and sitting opposite Don Dunstan resplendent in a batik suit, of being in awe that someone like Robert Drewe thought he, Tim Winton, could write well enough to win a prize. As he said, it confirmed his desire to be a professional writer, not someone doing it as a hobby. The difference the Vogel could make, and did, and has!

The young Tasmanian who was announced as the winner (Rohan Wilson for The Roving Party) looked at the crowded room, and rather endearingly said "S##T, that was TIM WINTON!!!!" He went on to say what a difference the prize would make to him, that he and his wife and little son could live on the money for a year, that it was just staggering to win. I spoke with him later on in the evening, and he was still on a cloud somewhere above the rest of us. Even asking what he was doing his PhD on (the interface between history and historical fiction - I think!) didn't bring him down!

Over the thirty years of the Vogel being awarded, it has amounted to roughly a million dollars and the careers being launched of a number of wonderful, interesting and influential writers. Congratulations to all involved, particularly the Stivns family who have honoured their father's desire to give back something to his adopted country. We are all the richer for it! Lindy

Monday, 2 May 2011

The 39 Steps - Our Vintage Classic of the Month!

The 39 Steps by John Buchan

First published in 1915 (just before my time) this neverthless is one of the best espionage novels ever written in my opinion. It has been made into movies many times, sometimes disastrously, but it is only with the whole book that you get the real feel of the story. This novel introduces Richard Hannay for the first time and like subsequent books in the series involve a chase across open country with the life of the hero at stake and sometimes the villain. The book moves at a rapid pace and the villain of the piece is truly dastardly and if like me as a youngster you enjoy a thrilling chase and a baffling solution then this is highly recommended even if you have seen the movie (or one of them). The best movie version I think is the Alfred Hitchcock version starring Robert Donat. Peter M.