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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.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

December 7th

Book & Publishing News

Tell us in 25 words or less about the book you enjoyed most during 2010. It doesn’t have to be a new publication. Send your entries to
THE PULSE 16-18 Lt Ryrie St.,Geelong
Phone: HONOR at the station during working hrs at 03 52225947.

We will judge the best entry during TUESDAY 21st’s program. The winner can collect a gift of books to the value of $75 from the station [$100 for subscribers.]

*Peter Corris has been designated “godfather of our crime writers”. With 30 years writing about crime in inner Sydney – mostly dealing with the life of that great survivor, Cliff Hardy – I think he has earned his stripes. In January his latest Hardy book, “Follow the Money”, will be out. I am hoping to speak with Peter about his writing life in the New Year. Before resorting to crime fiction, he lectured in English at the University of Sydney, and is married to novelist, Jean Bedford whose novel about Kate Kelly, “My Sister Kate”, is a jolly good read.

* Our poem today comes from Clifton Springs Diane Fahey. “Air” was published in Saturday’s Review in “The Australian”, quite an achievement. Those of us who live on the Bellarine will really love this poem about regrets, etc. Another of Diane’s poems appeared in today’s “Eureka Street” [ the excellent free on-line news magazine, published by the Jesuits.] She will be a guest on our show in January too.

*Late Christmas present ideas…
1. SALLY DINGO: “Unsung Ordinary Men”. Stories of WWII POWS, including her grandfather.
2. ANDY MULLIGAN: “Trash”. Remember the novel, “Towards The Beautiful North” – about three girls from a poor Mexican village who head “North” in search of some “magnificent” men to save their homes from drug dealers? I reviewed it early this year. [ You can find all our reviews under the Blog Archive on the right hand side panel]. This exceptional novel has something of that tone, but is much more serious. Three boys who ‘live’ on the garbage dumps outside Manila find a ‘treasure’ which leads them into an adventure which may take them to freedom…”Slumdog Millionaires” territory, sort of.

* Speaking of films. I use our Regional Library’s vast collection of DVDs for my film viewing – including last week Peter Brook’s 1963 B&W classic take on William Golding’s “Lord of the Flies”. What a film!, What a book!

*And “Jindabyne” was on recently as part of SBS’s latest classic films offering. We will feature the [Paul Kelly] soundtrack today. We all know the film’s pedigree? Raymond Carver wrote a chilling story “So Much Water So Close To Home” which Kelly drew on for his song, “Everything’s Turning To White”…which was then picked up for the screenplay of “Jindabyne”.

* LISTEN IN to my other program “BLOOD’S COUNTRY” every Monday at 3pm.


Not in any order;

- Morais: “The 100 Foot Journey”
- Levy: “Small Island” OR “The Long Song”
- Markell: “Wolf Hall”
- Roth: “Nemesis”
- Slawenski: “JD Salinger”
- Keneally: “Australia”
- RS Thomas: “Collected Poems” Vols I and II
- Doshi: “The Pleasure Seekers”
- Miller: “LoveSong”
- Malantes: “Matterhorn”

And ‘ELEVETH MAN’/Interchange:
- Allington: “Figurehead”

- Capp: “My Blood’s Country”
- Cunningham: “By Nightfall”
- Kelly: “March of the Patriots”

I think all these were published this year so should be available. And you know where to find reviews!

This Week’s Review: “By Nightfall” by Michael Cunningham

Who has been to New York? Do you know someone else who has? [Oh, ZANE has….when he was two years old!] Anyone I know who has been there has been quite overwhelmed by the experience: the vibrancy, the variety…the little specialty shops, the café life, the bars…Central Park…The music, the food, the theatres, the galleries. The COLOUR of the place.

When I think of New York these days, it is hard for me to shake those dreadfully images from 11 pm the night [our time] of their attacks on the Twin Towers. [By the time I was watching, the coverage had gone to Washington where two reporters struggled to describe what was happening as we saw the Pentagon being attacked as we watched.]
In quieter moments I will think of:
“The Great Gatsby”, stil the most perfectly crafted novel I have read…CHAIM POTOK’s novels about the Orthodox Jews of Williamsburg, NY, especially my favourite, “My Name Is Asher Lev”…Hart Crane’s epic poem, “Brooklyn Bridge”…The Mafia, and Coppola’s “Godfather” trilogy, maybe the zenith of American film achievement…Woody Allen films..The music: of OLD [Gershwin, Cole, Porter, Rogers and Hart] and the once-new: Dylan, Paul Simon, Billy Joel.
Believe it or not, a lot of this was running around in my head as I read Michael Cunningham’s new novel. He made his name with the book about Virginia Wool’s – “The Hours” – the very good film of which starred ‘our’ Nicole [in perhaps her last real acting role?] As well as telling a very good story about a modern marriage, Cunningham has done a good job of celebrating the Big Apple of the 21st century, or at least one upper middle-class slice of it. The great city almost features as a character.

I think this is a brilliant novel – though it may not be to everyone’s taste. It is by no means slow-paced, but it is a psychological or social novel. So there are no shoot-outs or overly dramatic turns. It tells of the latest phase in the twenty-year-old marriage of Peter Harris, a successful art gallery entrepreneur, late of Milwaukee. His wife, Rebecca, is “one of the Richmond, Virginia, Taylor sisters”. She also works in the art industry, and I suspect New York is still the world’s art capital? The time is now, so the big bucks once made by agents from the latest fashion in painting, sculpture, ‘installations’, ICT/multi-media creations are drying up. Pleasing his valued, wealthy customers and discovering [ and ‘booking’] the latest art hero are just two of Peter’s current challenges. They are both worrying about their uni drop-out daughter, when the unusual nephew, Ethan [aka “Mizzy”] decides to come and stay a while. Peter is in search of beauty, in the art he studies, evaluates and exhibits as well as in his daily existence. Mizzy’s presence challenges him in ways he thought he would never dream of.

Peter’s is [as Billy J sang] very much “a New York state of mind”. Some of the novel’s best moments are when he walks the neighbourhood late at night, or discusses the latest hangings with his assistant, or visits a wealthy client in her out-of-town mansion. I found him a sympathetic character. The vents are seen very much from his point of view, but he is not given a whitewash by any means. Twenty years ago this sort of novel would have been considered daring, but we are used now to the honesty with which the serious artists treat “Ordinary People” [that very good film!] I felt for Peter not because of his advanced aestheticism [if, in fact, he possesses it] but for his willingness to face his issues. So – am I contradicting myself? – The book is also a bit old-fashioned in its prose style. There are no gimmicks here – and it is not too long.

When Cunningham takes two pages to describe, for example, a room, you can bet the effect will be memorable, and relevant to the novel’s overall meaning.

Rating: ****

Michael Cunningham: By Nightfall, 4th Estate, 2010, pp 238, rrp $34-99 pb.

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