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Klara Z

Hello from Australia---Aussie authors!

Here I am emailing from an internet cafe in Adelaide--I'm midway through my tour and I've just discovered how to get in touch!

I'm getting very enthusiastic about Australian literature now I'm here---I've just read 'The Shiralee' by Darcy Niland, this book is  an Oz classic---brilliant writing--- and I'm about to read a novel by his wife, Ruth Park, who seems to be more celebrated here than in the UK. There are so many great bookshops here---and I found a wonderful 2nd hand one in Fremantle---but sadly, no room in luggage to bring everything home I'd like.

Ruth Park was writing in the 40s and 50s and her books depict life in the Sydney slums---her most famous is 'The Harp in the South'. Anyone out there know her work, I wonder?
Caro

My first reaction to your mention of Ruth Park, Klara, was to wonder why I think of her as associated with NZ, but Wikipedia tells me she was born here and lived here during her childhood. I think here her best-known work would be the first part of her autobiography which is probably set mostly in NZ. A Fence round the Cuckoo. I have a feeling I may have read this once but it is a very long time ago and I have no real memories of it. I haven't read any of her fiction.

She seems to have been quite prolific with books on different subjects and in different genre, and some for children as well as her adult ones.

Cheers, Caro.
Evie

Hello Klara!  Well done for making contact - hope you are having a fab time.  I don't know those authors, but great to get some new names, especially if the writing is good.  I only know the usual suspects in terms of Oz - Tim Winton, Peter Carey, Miles Franklin, etc.

Keep in touch!
Castorboy

Fancy you being in this part of the world! Ruth wrote a joint autobiography with D'arcy Niland The Drums Go Bang. Other than that the only book I have of hers is One-a-pecker,Two-a-pecker about the Otago gold rush in 1868. She was very popular for a while but nowadays doesn't get much of a mention. Enjoy the sunshine & watch out for the bush fires!
Green Jay

Evie wrote:
I only know the usual suspects in terms of Oz - Tim Winton, Peter Carey, Miles Franklin, etc.



I just read my first Tim Winton last year - can't think how it too so long - Dirt Music and some short stories which turned out to be about linked or the same characters, and I was really, really impressed. Will definitely be looking out for more.
blackberrycottage

Oz

I can remember seeing The Shiralee on tv a long time ago. It was a serial I think - with Bryan Brown as the father. The only Australian authors I have read much of were Alan Marshall (I can jump puddles) and James Vance Marshall (A walk to the hills of the dreamtime) as a child, and Charles West's detectives (Little Ripper, Stonefish and another I can't remember).
The library I went to as a kid had what seemed to be every Puffin book available and a good few others and I loved it.
Thursday Next

Most of the Australian authors that spring to my mind are children's/teen authors. Isobelle Carmody writes a very good series of books called The Obernewtyn Chronicles which don't seem to be all that big over in the UK. I remember my dad went to Australia once with his work and I begged him to get me the next books in the series. I've only just found out from an Aussie girl I know on another website that there is a fifth book and have ordered it from Amazon.

I believe John Marsden who wrote Tomorrow When the War Began, anither great teen book is also Australian.
Castorboy

One of the serious writers is considered to be Patrick White with Voss. I have a feeling he was nominated for the Nobel Prize.
Caro

John Marsden is indeed Australian.  So is Thomas Keneally.  Kate Grenville.  Kerry Greenwood. Matthew Reilly. Although I could easily name 50 NZ writers, I struggle beyond about 10 Aussie ones.  Shall I mention Germaine Greer?  Not a novelist anyway.  

Cheers, Caro.
MikeAlx

Castorboy wrote:
I have a feeling he was nominated for the Nobel Prize.

Not just nominated - he was awarded it in 1973.

http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/1973/
MikeAlx

A more recent 'fun' read from an Aussie was "Jennifer Government", Max Barry's satire on consumerism/corporate culture gone mad.
bookfreak

Another Australian author is Christina Stead, widely acclaimed and nominated for the Nobel Prize several times.  
The only novel of hers that I have read is The Man Who Loved Children, which is purportedly her finest and most famous.   It is a rather overlong story of an extremely dysfunctional family, set in 1930's USA (where Stead lived for several years).  The father is an egomaniac and his wife and five children suffer under him.   There are many scenes of wild comedy, some of pitiful sadness and a horrifying climax.  Sounds grim, but although a dark study of domestic terror it is seriously and movingly written and indeed I found it a great novel.
chris-l

The only Christina Stead I have read was 'A Little Tea, a Little Chat' and it really didn't encourage me to continue with the author. This one was also set in the USA and certainly was over-long. I think it was the total lack of sympathy in, and for, any of the characters which it made it such hard going. They were a pretty grim bunch and I was rather glad to see the back of them!
Green Jay

bookfreak wrote:
Another Australian author is Christina Stead, widely acclaimed and nominated for the Nobel Prize several times.
The only novel of hers that I have read is The Man Who Loved Children, which is purportedly her finest and most famous. It is a rather overlong story of an extremely dysfunctional family, set in 1930's USA (where Stead lived for several years). The father is an egomaniac and his wife and five children suffer under him. There are many scenes of wild comedy, some of pitiful sadness and a horrifying climax. Sounds grim, but although a dark study of domestic terror it is seriously and movingly written and indeed I found it a great novel.


I read a few Christina Stead novels when Virago started up its lovely modern classics list. I read Letty Fox: Her Luck because I loved the cover painting - and the cheeky title. Then The Man Who Loved Children (a Penguin edition) - which I think I read twice, but possibly only out of desperation, not having access to many books at the time. The People With The Dogs rings a bell, and For Love Alone, which had a misfit teenage girl trying to find her way in life. Letty Fox was fun. But looking back, they did seem awfully rambling and hard work to get to the weird and wonderful bits, full of strange characters, yearnings and frustrations. I read something about Stead later, that she was quite high handed about her fiction and did not submit to editing or much re-reading of her own work - it definitely shows. I don't think something like this would get published at all these days. But maybe we can say that about many books, and not as criticism, just that they would never reach the light of day as not being commercial enough.
Klara Z

Hello, again! I'm now in Cairns, Queensland, and I've just finished Ruth Park's (fairly late, I think) novel, 'Swords, Crowns and Rings' an epic story of the early 20th century and the  depression---beginning in 1907 and ending in 1931. Excellent and very moving. I'm about to take 'For the term of his Natural Life' out of my suitcase---probably the first great Australian novel?

An Oz writer I much admire is Henry Handel Richardson---The Fortunes of Richard Mahoney--which I read many years ago---and I have read one novel by Patrick White, 'Riders in the Chariot'. Looking forward to looking for bookshops when I arrive in Sydney later this week....
Caro

Hi Klara,
When we were in Cairns for a couple of weeks several years ago I read a book by Ian Idriess (I think that was his name) which was written in the mid-20th century about his time working in the inland part of the area, tin-mining.  (I am now a little hazy about the details - may not have been tin-mining and I can't remember if it was a memoir or written as a novel now.  Either way it was based on his experiences and was really very interesting if you like to know a bit of the history of the place.  Cairns is not a very old centre.  

Cheers, Caro.
Vita

Klara,
I just caught up with this thread. I was envying you being in Adelaide and having access to the bookshops there. South Australia is my 'other home' so I know it well. On my last visit the Mary Martin bookshop was my new discovery.

Ruth Park has written some wonderful children's books too. 'Playing Beattie Bow' for older children, The Muddle Headed Wombat for littles and so many more.

Having been through school and college in Oz we always had a good mix of British and Australian authors in English Lit. (Mentioning Henry Handel Richardson took me back to 'doing' The Getting of Wisdom at college.) It was a shock when I began teaching here in the UK in the mid-70s that children's libraries were almost exclusively devoted to British authors. One colleague even suggested that there weren't really any Australian authors because she had never heard of any and then when I attempted to put that misconception straight she intimated that if they were any good beyond local appeal she would have heard of them. Things have changed a little since then!

As you have been in Queensland - hope you were able to keep dry - I wonder if you read any David Malouf, Rembering Babylon, perhaps.
janetmp

Has anyone read A Fortunate Life by A B Facey.? I  found it an inspiring read. What did others think?
VillageDuckpond

Jan

On your recommendation I have already done an inter-county library reservation for this book. If it is anything like the last time I did an inter-county library reservation the book took three months to arrive, came from the British Library and should I have lost it I would have been charged 70! Needless to say I didn't take it on holiday with me despite the fact that it was the perfect size for a week's holiday reading!

Long live public libraries .......
Castorboy

Vita wrote:
Klara, Ruth Park has written some wonderful children's books too. Playing Beatie Bow for older children, The Muddle Headed Wombat for littles and so many more.

I have just discovered this obituary for Ruth Park who died, aged 93, the week before Christmas. There is more on www.nzherald.co.nz/arts-literature/news/article.cfm?c_id=18&objectid=10695001
Vita

By the most amazing coincidence CB, I happen to be in Oz,   to receive notice of your posting. Thank you for the link to that obituary.
I hadn't intended to be here for a couple of months yet but then it was decided I should come out in early December and return in early February. So here I am. Among other things I have been able to catch up on recent Aussie writing with recommendations ( and presents!) from my niece and my sister-in-law, my daughter and my mum. A real family thing!
I have just finished a couple of accounts of people who have spent sometime working in the communities in the Northern Territory and North Western Queensland. Now reading Sly by Rick Feneley which the covers describes as 'a Huck Finn for the nineties' - OK may be not so recent but new to me. And Mum gave me The Dressmaker's Daughter by Kate Llewellyn, a memoir by an author who grew up in the same little town as I did. And that just might be my inflight book on the way back to the UK.
Ages since I have posted, I know, but nothing like a trip to Oz and visiting my family to re-ignite the reading fire! Very Happy
KlaraZ

Oh, thank you for that! Her death doesn't seem to have been reported in the UK press at all.
Jullou

One of my favourites is Richard Flanagan. The Sound of One Hand Clapping, Death of a River Guide and Gould's Book of Fishes are all different, and all brilliant. Any one of them is well worth a read. The Sound of One Hand Clapping had me weeping out loud (very unusual) and I think was also made into a movie some time ago. Death of a River Guide and Gould's are both more surreal.

I also second (or is it third) the post above for Henry Handel Richardson's "The Fortunes of Richard Mahoney'
Hector

I'm reading an Australian author at the moment, Patrick White's The Tree of Man. It's good. I also read Voss by the same author last year and that it was superb. I suspect I did a mini review somewhere.

Regards

Hector
Castorboy

And here it is Hector one post up  
http://bigreaders.myfastforum.org...7599.php&highlight=voss#17599
Hector

Thanks Castorboy!

I can't believe it was a year ago that I read it. How time flies!

Regards

Hector

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