- Addition by Toni Jordan (Text Publishing)
- A Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz (Penguin Books)
- Breath by Tim Winton (Hamish Hamilton)
- Fugitive Blue by Claire Thomas (Allen & Unwin)
- Ice by Louis Nowra (Allen & Unwin)
- One Foot Wrong by Sofie Laguna (Allen & Unwin)
- The Devil’s Eye by Ian Townsend (Harper Collins)
- The Pages by Murray Bail (Text Publishing)
- The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas (Allen & Unwin)
- Wanting by Richard Flanagan (Alfred A Knopf)
It’s testament to how much I’ve fallen off the ‘literary’ wagon that I have read none of these novels. That said, while I loved Murray Bail’s Homesickness (the only book of his that I’ve read) and thought Christos Tsiolkas’ Loaded was a welcome change to the Aust.Lit scene, I don’t find myself particularly enamoured of much Australian literature. Or drawn to support it in specific ways. Hypocritically, I find myself championing it against charges of parochialism, but I can also be ambivalent about the use of ‘local colour’ in vernacular and setting for some narratives…
*waits for lightning bolt of outrage*
I worked on ‘Aust.Lit’ for many years. My theses (MA and PhD) were both engaged with the notion of what might constitute and/or challenge the Aust.Lit ‘establishment,’ positioning of ethnic minority authors on literary scene, and how notions of ‘Australian-ness’ were conveyed/examined/refuted in various narratives and personas.
I haven’t really worked with literary texts for about five years now, and have regained my love of reading as a hobby. Colleagues have pointed out to me that I have obviously ‘moved away’ from literary studies. I’m not entirely sure what that means, but I think it’s something to do with my more frequently verbalised and disparaging remarks about certain novels and types of writing. I used to be painfully wary of being un-judgemental about Literature, mostly because so many people out there were more than happy to sink the boot into anything that may require more thought and engagement than they were willing to give. Now, I fear that I have become one of ‘those people,’ especially when it comes to finding some books/writers consistently overrated and pretentious.
I don’t tend to read books just because they have nice gold stamps on the front declaring they’ve won some literary prize or other. In fact, I tend to swerve away from anything that won a Nobel Prize for Literature (worthy and D&M narratives have their place; that place just usually isn’t my couch at night when my brain is only partially active), but am happy to give Orange and Booker Prize winners and shortlisters a go. One of my all-time favourite books was an Orange Prize winner: Anne Michaels’ debut novel, Fugitive Pieces. Pulitzers normally don’t get a look-in and (I feel I should say this sotto voce) neither do Miles Frankliners.
My reading habits these days are highly variable, shifting from blockbuster genre fiction (usually crime/spy thrillers) to independent press ‘local’ novels to books that could be categorised as ‘International Literature.’ While I’m supportive of experimental writing and textual adventures in principle, I feel sometimes that I need to preface discussion about my reading with, “Hello, my name is X, and I like my books to have a narrative…”