Saturday, November 11, 2006

Launches, Reviews and Grey Hair

This is what you like to see at a magazine or book launch - the magazine arrives and everyone dives for a copy and is engrossed for the next ten minutes (ignoring the wine and food!). This is the launch yesterday of our new magazine "Lizard" - not a fiction and poetry mag but a collection of great articles about teaching and learning. You might think it sounds a little boring, but there's all sorts of topics - exchanges, the Clarion South workshop, model cars, the oldest student in the world, immigrant students experiences, just to name a few. And terrific images from our graphic arts students. By "our" I mean Victoria University. The launch was at Iramoo on our campus - Iramoo is where we have a sustainable environment precinct with 35 hectares of protected grasslands and also where we have a number of live-in lizards - the endangered legless lizard to be exact. Those people who have been to Building 10 on the campus will remember the strange yellow and brown exterior which is meant to represent the lizard also. And that's why the magazine is called "Lizard". If you live in Australia and would like a copy (yes, free!) just email Sue at

Onto other bookish things - not surprisingly (to me) "On the Jellicoe Road" has just been favourably reviewed in the latest edition of Magpies, a journal of books for children/YA. The reviewer said, "Taylor's story is interspersed with out-of-sequence excerpts from Hannah's manuscript, weaving together the events of past and present - an effective technique that foreshadows events and builds reader interest." See - told you it was just me! The reviewer was obviously far more on the ball than I was ... no, actually I stand by my original comments.

And when I read a book like "Dairy Queen", which I did in one night this week (could not put it down!), I know that there are still books out there in the world that will capture me and hold me fast and give me huge pleasure and excitement to read. Quick synopsis - DJ lives on a dairy farm and is doing nearly all the farm work because Dad is injured. She's failing high school, feeling pretty unhappy (but not in a whiny, "why me" kind of way, which is why the voice works so well) and then Brian arrives. An arrogant football player from the neighbouring town who is sent to work on the farm as a test. DJ ends up training him in spite of herself, and discovers she is really good at it, and good enough at football to try out for her own school team. The only girl. Sounds unlikely? Catherine Gilbert Murdock makes it work, through the character and the voice, and also the details of farm life and footy training. Loved it. 5 stars.

I'm now reading Ian Rankin's latest, "Naming of the Dead". It was my bribe to get me through all that marking of student work. Nothing like Rebus waiting at the end of a million hours of reading, commenting and grading. I then dyed my hair to cheer myself up (hate to think how many new grey hairs I got from all that terrible grammar and punctuation) and dived into the Rankin novel. I mean, how hard is it to punctuate "I hate bad punctuation," she said. In case you're wondering, if I had a dollar for every time I saw a full stop after punctuation instead of a comma... and then, of course, Word gives she a capital S - She. Grrrr.

Am I writing? A new draft of a picture book - Draft No. 17 but who's counting? All that marking does give me a very critical eye to take back to my own manuscripts, if nothing else!

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