Contact us

Phone 52225947 between 3 and 4pm on Tuesdays to speak to us live on air. Email: Post: 68-70 Little Ryrie Street, Geelong VIC 3220.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Blurb: July 6th


Book News

This Floating World.
This Floating World, a book-length poem has been adapted for a forthcoming theatrical performance at The Wheeler Centre in Melbourne. Passionate Melbourne poetry writer Libby Hart created This Floating World, a collection of 76 poems during an Australia Council for the Arts residency at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Ireland.

This Floating World is not complicated poetry it represents a portrait of Ireland and captures the country’s landscape. The work is a narrative of Ireland through a myriad of voices that belong to people, animals, birds, spirits and nature. The work is focused on how we are connected to all things and to each other. How we live and the dilemmas we face. This Floating World was chosen from about 80 entries submitted to the Australian Poetry Centre to be adapted into a one hour theatrical performance.

The Australian Poetry Centre will host a performance by Teresa Bell and Gavin Blatchford in This Floating World at The Wheeler Centre at 176 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne, on Sunday 11 July, 5.00pm – 6.00pm. Bookings Or call 03 9094 7826 Tickets $10.

Welcome to "The Making of Modern Australia".
Here you can share your stories about life in Australia from 1945 onwards. They might be funny or sad, big events or the small details of everyday life. Your stories will become part of a lasting record of Australia's history as told by the people who lived it — you and me.
You can add photos, video, audio and even live webcam recordings. To help you tell your story better, the MOMA site has plenty of tips and inspiring examples. And you don't have to be a computer whiz to join in.

Readings Monthly
Readings publish a great monthly newsletter, Readings Monthly, go to to subscribe. Each month the Readings Monthly highlights book, CD and DVD new releases.

Publishing News

* David Marr’s “Quarterly Essay” on the ex-PM [discussed here three weeks ago] will become a collector’s item….

* The current “ Geelong Addy” series on the Pyramid collapse looks like excellent reading. What a chapter in our history.
On the 50th anniversary of publication, Harper Lee’s famous novel about 1930s Atticus Finch and his family has been taken to task by a Richard King, “ a Perth-based critic”. Obviously Harper Lee in the 50s was not as politically sensitive as we like to think we now are…so, of course, she doesn’t analyse Uncle Tom racism as a Richard Wright, a James Baldwin or a Toni Morrison has. Give her a break, Richard. What a book it is!.

*Books about reading. Recently, Brenda Walker’s. this week a Turkish-American – Elif Batuman tells us about her gradually-developing obsession with RUSSIAN novels. Unless you are familiar with the literature, just read the Introduction.

* FACT….or OPINION. How good are we at discerning the difference? [ It’s something VCE English student grapple with as part of their Yr11/12 assessment.] I have trouble when,eg, Nicolas Rothwell displays a very considered yet unchanging point of view on NT Indigenous politics in his writings for “ The Australian”…and then purports to be an objective observer in a book such as his very readable and entertaining “The Red Highway”. Am I being pedantic? After all, Dickens [ cf ABC 1 Sunday at 8.30 for “ Little Doritt” ] was the most didactic of writers and a social reformer of great effect.*

* My colleague John [ Bartlett] and I thought we could discuss another side of this debate in view of the current love some novelists have of “ mixing’ obvious autobiography with more conventional fiction [ eg J M Coetzee.etc.] Or perhaps it has always been so.
I mentioned books on our current wars earlier this year, told in the American context. Both have been extensively reviewed of late in our papers, etc. BOTH are excellent and available in our public libraries.

Lizzy’s Book Review

Now that the movie Eclipse has opened this month, there must be a resurgence of fans poring over their old imprints and new readers seduced by the film, hitting the print market. Needless to say, whoever skips down this path of enticement, the earlier novels of Twilight and New Moon are prerequisite reading. That way reader can be orientated to the drizzly landscape of Forks, Washington, with its ongoing machinations of supernatural hierarchy and teenage angst.

Ok, so everyone knows the Twilight saga, genre paranormal romance or romantic fantasy written for the young adult fiction market, was a publishing phenomenon. The author, Stephenie Meyers, supposedly tackled these immense texts after having had an intense dream. She apparently ordered take out dinners and rejected her former activities of scrap booking and running up Halloween outfits for her children. All in the name of writing.

In the Eclipse tome, the story of wilful teenager Bella Swan and her Adonis vampire boyfriend Edward Cullen, resumes. They reunite following their tortuous parting in New Moon and the final destination of the book is the setting up for Bella’s nuptials with Edward and subsequent transformation into a bloodsucking immortal for the next book, Breaking Dawn.

Yet Forks is fraught with menace. Bella’s best friend, the werewolf Jacob Black, simmers with his inherited ancient hatred against vampires and love for Bella. A rash of murders in nearby Seattle threatens to become a new vampire threat in the small town.
Certainly, Eclipse is a clever piece of work. It reworks stock horror into something fresh in a market awash with horror tales of the supernatural. Bram Stoker already set the bar in 1897 with his gothic novel, Dracula; Anne Rice’s Lestat had readers nibbling between1976-2003. Yet, part of Eclipse’s accessibility is that like Rowling’s Harry Potter series—Meyer’s fantasy is grounded in present time. And common vampire fiction tropes, including fur versus fangs, vampire apocalypse, superhuman strengths and vegetarian vampires, are securely

embedded. But then, Meyer mixes these in with insightful pictures of teenage emotional obsessions, issues and the supremacy of pheromones. The focus on Jacob at the end of the book and the passion between him and Bella works, ending with a rather tragic epilogue from Jacob’s point of view.

Meyer’s most powerful emphasis of all, though, is the romance of hooking up with bloodsuckers. As it should be. Vampire fiction is just that: a tale of getting loaded up with an irresistible and usually loaded vampire. No wonder Chelsea Quinn Yarbro created her vampire cycle (began in 1979), based on the historical character of Compte St. Germain. He enticed all he met by the romance, wealth and magnetism of his shadowy person.
The erotic undercurrent in Eclipse is also in keeping with vampire fiction. But it makes the snogging in Harry Potter look as mundane as a margarine sandwich. Bella swoons over Edward in the meadow or in her bedroom; she dallies with an overheated Jacob who is in dire need of a shirt and long johns.

This eroticism is not masked by Meyer’s moral hygiene either. The love triangle of Bella, Edward and Jacob dilutes the author’s somewhat shaky messages of not resisting to temptation, old soul connections and the inevitability and addiction of love.

Maybe the book does slide into soap opera. There are info dumps about tragic historical back-stories of characters, Bella’s vacillates between her two admirers and has a tendency towards histrionics. Everyone looks good and no-one takes out the rubbish. We experience the final battle too late and only in part with the major battle between the vegetarian vampires and their bloodthirsty counterparts described by third parties, skidding on thin ice when it comes to motive. The endless carping about Edward’s beauty and long tracts of teen banter kills the tension in parts of the book.

But, despite all that, Meyer’s formula sells. Perhaps, after all, we hanker for monsters in a realistic and dangerous world. But danger can be handled and we get to choose our own destinies. I am unsure, though, what part the erotics of abstinence play in the book’s success, but it does not detract from the fantasy of secret love trysts in the Twilight Zone.
Book in stock, new RRP $24.95, in Angus and Robertson but prices vary

Lizzy’s Film Review
Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart)
Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson)
Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner)
Victoria (Bryce Dallas Howard)
Director: David Slade
Score: Howard Shore (Lord of the Rings)
Cinematography: Javier Aguirresarobe (The Others)
Screenwriter: Melissa Rosenberg
Summit Entertainment

The movie Eclipse has made two hundred and sixty-one million dollars worldwide and successfully compresses Stephenie Meyer’s tome of teenage love with the Otherworld into a linear, one-dimensional tale. It does crank up the dramatic tension and mixes in a Walking Dead violence that its predecessors Twilight and New Moon did not have.

Maybe this is as good as it gets with the Twilight saga. David Slade has already directed a vampire movie: 30 Days of Nigh. He brings us some scary vampires in Eclipse: Riley and Victoria who are the quite unlike the cultured and powerful Volturi bloodsuckers we saw in New Moon. The vengeful Victoria creates a rabble of newborn vampires amongst the filth and shadows of the Seattle monorail; Riley carries her evil plan to fruition. On the other hand, we get to see the Cullen clan, (our favourite benign. “vegetarian” vampires who sport some beguiling hair dos), honourably defend Bella and strut their stuff alongside their enemies the werewolves in a brutal battle against the newborns.

As in the book, the story of teenager Bella Swan and her vampire boyfriend Edward Cullen, resumes after their split in New Moon. Bella, now obsessed with Edward, hurtles towards becoming a bloodsucking immortal and Edward’s wife by her own choice. Bella’s best friend, the werewolf Jacob Black, simply sizzles onscreen baring his abundantly muscled torso and unrelenting love for Bella. We get the real blast of the love triangle: scenes of chesty Jake carrying Bella to safety and keeping her warm at night, whilst Edward is somewhat simpering and reluctantly agrees with these arrangements. The weakest point of the story arc is the focus on characters urging Bella out of her self-destructive craving for vampiredom.

I must admit, though, the film beats the book. The torturous process of conversion to a newborn vampire, aptly described in the book is not fully depicted in the film. That is all what is needed here. And the flashback info dumps of back-story history such as the origin of the werewolf and vampire treaty, vampire Jasper and Rosalie’s conversion stories work better visually. Edward’s appearance deviates from Adonis to a coifed James Dean who captures us with his amber-coloured contact lenses. Best of all, there was no endless carping about Edward as eye candy or banal tracts of teenage banter. Rosenberg’s screenplay retains iconic lines and scenarios such as Charlie Swan’s sex talk to Bella. Quality cinematography tempers the soap opera aura of the book.

But Eclipse is not the greatest vampire movie of all time. Take the 1987 teenage vampire movie, The Lost Boys, directed by Joel Schumaker. Characters had big hair too but it had the star power of Dianne Weist, Edward Hermann, Keifer Sutherland and wicked humour of Barnard Hughes. Eclipse spins on its sober axis of warnings about pre-marital sex and star-crossed lovers and greatly differs in moral tone from the “sleep all day, party all night” mantra of The Lost Boys.

All the same, the young stars of Eclipse shine for its mostly younger audience. So far, it is the best screen adaption of the Twilight books and would appeal to most fans of the books.

Perhaps, though, the next big thing might be a rush on amber-coloured contact lenses and a revamp of big hair . . .

No comments:

Post a Comment