D is downloading photos in the next room and having her usual struggles with her computer. I play the reluctant consultant. Last night we went with our neighbours - C & J - to the Somerville. A French film - Skylab, about family holidays in Brittany. We came away with vastly differing views on the female leads. D and J thought the Julie Delpy character was great - a normal, in-your-face French woman - while C and I thought she was a case. And the same for her grown daughter, although the 11 year-old version was delightful. K also came but we didn't get the chance to canvas her opinions. A fun way to get to know the neighbours - and a typical picnic feast, aided by a bottle of Port Phillip rose, courtesy of K.
Warming up after wind and rain earlier in the month. We said our final goodbyes to dear old Mum. About 50 at the funeral and afterwards at Rob and Jo's. A good send-off. Someone asked me how it felt to be an orphan. Not much different to not being one, I replied. Yet there is that sense of loss, with both parents now gone. No doubt we will reflect on this when the family get together on Christmas Eve.
Meanwhile, the second novel splutters along. My young hero is back in Australia, bursting to to return to India but unexpectedly delayed. I'm not sure how things will end. My mentor told me that the novelist, Richard Ford (Canada, The Sportswriter etc) plants a flag (mentally) somewhere in the far distance and his task is to take his story towards that flag. I don't seem to work that way. At least not yet.
Speaking of novels, recently read Drusilla' Modjeska's The Mountain. Complex but interesting especially for lovers of Papua New Guinea. I read it on Kindle and got a bit lost with which character was which, and whose voice was speaking. But it is worth hanging in. The interactions, assumptions and cultural issues between the indigenous people and the Europeans is handled adroitly, and there is a real smell of PNG permeating the pages.
Also skimmed through a biography of the nurse, Edith Cavell, executed by the Germans in WW1. Not often have women written war-based books, and Diana Souhami gives a matter-of-fact statistical backdrop to the evolving drama of Cavell's involvement in the Belgian resistance, and ultimate fate. Understated and powerful.
Chris Cleave writes of more contemporary events. Daniele saw him at the Brisbane Writer's Festival and was impressed. He spoke of the redemptive element in his novels - an approach that I applaud. Too much fiction is tough going, unending heaviness and deflating endings. Cleave's Gold - a tale of two competing female cyclists - is dramatic and captures the conflicted emotions extremely well. Central to the story is Sophie, the young daughter, who is being treated for leukemia. This book could have disappeared up itself in pathos but refuses to do so. I am now moved to read Cleave's earlier novels.
Happy with my writing as the week draws to an end. A productive session on Tuesday with my mentor, and the manuscript teased into shape. My energy now is with the second novel, with the young hero hurtling into self-discovery.
Meanwhile, the sand and surf at Leighton have beckoned. Perfect beach weather & totally appreciated.
Saw The Master last night at Luna on SX. This film will polarise folks a bit like the Eagles and the Dockers. You say 'yes' to one and 'no' to the other. You might find it hard to embrace both. And having now read a few reviews, this confirms the critics are similarly divided - ranging from adulation (The Guardian) to disparaging (The Observer).
I tend to lean towards The Observer. The acting (Phoenix and Hoffman) is brilliant but I found myself wondering at the motivation of the director (Anderson). The treatment of the cult is predictably based on sex, money, power, neediness and charisma. The personality of the Master has been replicated in real life a thousand times over. So we are left with the Addict (Freddy Quell, played by Joachim Phoenix). I reckon it's really his film, and it should have been called "The Tormented".
The rest of it is an overlong pastiche, confronting and desperately taut - and engrossing in parts - but as a 'whole', the film falls short. That's my two-bob's worth. Other opinions?
America, America.......You have me oscillating from frustration to inspiration.
Today....Inspiration. Obama is one out of the box...Has there been a better orator? What a speech! What a message! How wonderful if rhetoric morphs into reality. But he's doing his bit, and that makes me happy.
Read yesterday about the grievous harm that comes to those who sit too long at their desks. Today's resolution is to (A) get up every hour (B) drink more ...water (C) stretch...and (D) buy a singing hourglass to help me remember.
Cup tip: MOUNT ATHOS..Why? Greece and Turkey have been on my mind ...and there's no horse with Turkish name.....although Daniele has drawn Ethiopia in the office sweep.
Word of the day: GRIFFIN....a "betting tip" or "a fabulous creature with an eagle's head and wings, and a lion's body" [Not to be confused with GRIFFON - "a large vulture"
Good luck to all tipsters
A roast lunch with friends. Sort of siesta then planning travels for 2013. Joined Twitter. What have I done!?!
Light rain caresses the garden. Quiet time at home. Saw To Rome With Love last evening. Woody Allen might have considered retirement after Midnight IN Paris. Or at least retiring himself from acting. Laughs were few and far between but Rome looked terrific.
Also hauled ourselves off recently to watch On The Road. Brought back good memories of the early buzz Kerouac brought to yearning teenagers. I was right up there, wanting to hit the road but lacking the courage. Found the movie far too long but some great acting from the lads.
Confession: Reading Eat, Pray, Love -
Saturday morning in Freo. Happy to have the new website up and running. Just received news a good mate has a grandson. We will have plenty to talk about next Thursday on our weekly ramble.