Wednesday, August 02, 2006

I seem to be stuck on reworking short things at the moment, while the two novels I want to revise hover somewhere just out of reach, and the new novel I want to attempt Chapter Two of seems to be over the mountain and far away.
House renovations are nearly finished, which means painting is nearly finished. I am down to window frames, doorways and fixing up the little bits where I missed patches or did crooked lines. Or accidentally splattered a bit of paint where it wasn't supposed to go. Soon the fridge will go back in the kitchen where it belongs and I will stop wandering into the lounge room to get margarine, milk, wine etc out of the darn thing and then forgetting what I went for. It's not Alzheimers, it's renovation brain vague-out.
The Melbourne Writers' Festival is coming up in 3 weeks. A new director this year and lo and behold, the first thing she does is take the bookshop out of the main building to free up cafe room and standing/chatting room (and that takes those totally ridiculous book-signing queues out too), put the bookshop outside in a marquee, and put another cafe space in another marquee. Yahoo! This is after about 5 years of people complaining endlessly to the ex-director who seemed totally deaf to everyone's screams of frustration at the sardine-tin-like venue.
Another change - good gracious, there are several sessions on poetry instead of just one. And the session times are staggered so everyone is not coming in and out at the same time (creating an even bigger sardine can).
Not so sure about the guests this year though. Are they worth paying for? (Adelaide's Writers' Festival is still free). But there are master classes on offer - a first - and I have signed up for the session with Kate Thompson, whose children's novel "The New Policeman" won two big awards in the UK last year.
I'm reading it at the moment and am not exactly bowled over by it, but it's getting better as I go along. I'll have to find some of her other books to read as well.
I'm also doing a short workshop this week on songwriting. Not because I want to write songs, but because my poetry class all want to, and I don't know enough about it to tell them anything useful, even though I did write a number of songs for a rock musical about 15 years ago. Writing a few lyrics doesn't necessarily mean you can tell other people how to do it. Especially if, like me, you don't play a musical intrument of any kind, or read music. I was lucky enough to work with a great composer who helped me a lot. So off I go to learn some new stuff, I hope.
Finished the Nicole Krauss novel "The History of Love" and decided I did like it, despite the confusion she created over the time-jumps. There are mostly two viewpoint characters, Leopold who is the old man and Alma the young girl. A lot of the story is about their unrealised connection and how they eventually get to meet, but I thought that running the novel on two different timelines got too confusing. Alma's sections are dated, leading me to believe that Leopold's sections ran in the same time zone, but in fact most of the time I think he is ahead of her. But I'm not 100% sure about that! So when Leopold's son dies, it happens for L and A at different times.
It's a novel that needs a bit of concentration, and a fair amount of puzzling out who is who and what is going on. But overall I liked it, and thought it was worth the struggle. I especially liked Leopold and his ventures into life modelling!
I am trying to read "The Kite Runner" but am probably not giving it a fair go. For something different I'm reading a book called "The Human Face" which is about how our faces develop and why they are different, what we see in faces, how we interpret facial gestures. Great photos, and it is inspiring a series of poems.

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