I went and saw Anna Funder talk at Melb Uni the other night. She was gorgeous, and I loved her story about a bear and a family camping holiday. She also talked about ex-Stasi men and how they use a lot of Brycreem. She also talked about imagination, that of the reader and that of the writer. I bought her book Stasiland and got her to inscribe it to my daughter. I told her my daughter is doing IB History - Oh, how is she finding it, she asked. I didn't tell her about my daughter's obsession with Nazis in general and Aryans in particular.
I just finished reading Toni Jordan's Addition. For some reason for a long time I thought this was a memoir or NF. It's a novel and a bloody good one I thought. It surprised me, I don't know why. I expected something light a la The Rosie Project, but it is much much better than Rosie. (I draw comparisons though because they each have protagonists with conditions - OCD 'counting' in Addition and a strongly-insinuated Aspergers in Rosie. While TRP, I thought was trite, lacked credibility in many ways and had unconvincing characters who you couldn't connect with or care about, especially Rosie I have to say, Addition was the complete opposite. The cataloguing of compulsions was fascinating but also sad, but the writing was matter-of-fact, never over-wrought. But the thing is, the important thing is, it's FUNNY. It's a while since I've read a book and been so compelled, laughed several times, grinned to myself a lot and cried TWICE towards the end. Jordan has also written Nine Days which is historical fiction, not my usual choice but I might have to check her out because I was seriously impressed with her style and management of her prose.
Now I'm back on HHhH (which I'd put to the side, and which my daughter consumed; see above reference to Nazi obsession.) I also have Eleanor Catton's The Luminaries which I started about three weeks ago mostly to see how she's constructed her form for the story (and it's since won the Booker Prize. Remember I said if she won I'd hate her because she's 28 and it's her second book. I may not have said that here.) Well, she won and I don't hate her, I think yay for her, yay for bigger books, yay for being experimental and writing what you love, not tailoring books to what you think will sell. So yay.)
Also Alice Munro won the Nobel and I had never read anything of hers so I looked up a few articles to get some info of how to work into her oeuvre, and came across a short story (she only writes short stories, but they're long) and it was pretty interesting. I don't think I've ever read a story like that and how she manages time shifts is interesting - she can pack a novel worth of stuff into a long story. She also breaks the 'rule' of show-don't-tell; she is pretty much all tell with some show. But who cares? It works. I look forward to exploring more of her stuff.
The last two weeks I've been teaching a lot and not doing much of my writing. But I have to finish my best version of the second book to get to the agent in November. I had said early, it might be mid. I'm getting it to my reader on Monday and that is a freaking freak-out sort of situation.
And then, and then I've been having thoughts about the first one. Once the second is off to Brooklyn I'll go back to the first and rejig. I have ideas, I have notes, and it's true as Tim Winton said in recent radio interview with Fran Kelly:
'You don't really finish books, you give up on them I suppose.'
I think they're aren't finished until they are published and then there's no more you can do. But you probably would if you could.
Sarah, how goes your book? I think it's out soon?