Book & Publishing News:
*“Women on the Road” will be on at Airey’s Inlet, Feb 19-20,featuring a host of well-known Victorian writers. Check out www.greatescapebooks.com.au for more information.
* POETRY AT THE [Geelong] LIBRARY will be on Feb 6th at 3pm. More information on next week’s program.
* Australia’s premier living poet, Les A. Murry, will be speaking at Queenscliff Uniting Church at 11.30 am, Thursday Feb 10th,sponsored by The Bookstore in Hesse Street. Talk plus lunch- $30.
* “Our” James Murphy – James was the brilliant, regular commentator on world affairs on Denis’ morning program while at Deakin – featured in the recent “Age” editorial praising the innovative scheme begun last year to get outstanding graduates into schools. James teaches in Horsham and not only loves his job, but was also nominated for an Australian Teaching Award.
*Winner of “The Blurb’s” first competition, in 2010,was Maria Frend. There will be a MONTHLY competition again in 2011. $75 worth of book on offer! So keep tunning in!
* “His last Duchess” is a new novel based on Robert Browning’s dramatic monologue “MY last Duchess”. It had better be good. I’ll read the poem for you soon.
* Next week I will review another “Mafia” genre book – “The Deeds Of My Fathers”. Intriguing.
* Did you read the winning entry in “The Age’s” Short Story Competition over the Christmas period? Sure, all writers take poetic licence, but I wondered whether Murray Middleton was a tad lazy in calling “Bundaburra” a town……when it is, in fact, a creek [barely] near Forbes? I liked his mention of Parkes Leagues Club: your host was refused entry to the dining-room there in 1969 for having hair over “collar-length” and wearing a Nehru jacket, not the prescribed collar-and-tie.
* The latest edition of “HEAT”, the literary magazine from the Uni. of Western Sydney, will probably be the last. They have published some excellent work over 16 years.
* “The Blurb” welcomes contact from local history groups. I look forward to speaking with Marg Coper and the Meredith group soon about some recent work in print.
* Simply nostalgia; nothing to do with books…Did you enjoy Sunday night’s documentary on ABC2 about the ever-beautiful and -committed Joan Baez?
This Week’s Review: ‘Notorious’ by Roberta Lowing
I seem to have had to work harder on this review than of any other for a while [ and, in retrospect, I don’t think I did KATHERINE’s book justice last week] “Notorious’ is so much more than the sum of its parts, yet those parts are themselves often brilliant: the locations, the poetic language, the seven intriguing main characters, the timeless relevance of the themes [loss of belief, international politics, aesthetic questions, neo-imperialism.]
I am not sure, however, whether the author finally pulled it off. Or whether I “got it” – who IS who, and WHERE and WHEN…For one thing, I am not very familiar with neo-IRomantic French poet, Arthur Rimbaud, which means I may have missed a whole thread of literary allusions. In the meantime, I was often reminded of TS Eliot’s “The Waste Land” which burst on the literary world not long after Rimbaud’s sojourn in his [the novel’s] desert. I was reminded too of Francis Thompson’s 1896 poem “The Hound Of Heaven” which the novelist almost paraphrases at times…In the 1990s.English novelist Jim Crace wrote “Quarantine”, an intriguing short novel about Jesus’ in the wilderness [from Luke’s Gospel.] On top of all this, someone reminded me that our author was for many years the chief film and TV writer for Fairfax.
What, then, is “Notorious” about? I look to Ockham and quote liberally from Jane Gleeson-White in a recent “Overland” [Issue 201,p 38-9.]
“…a fractured narrative told in several voices that reaches from Rimbaud’s desert wanderings in the 1890s to the Iraq war of the 21st century. In an asylum near Abu N’Af near Casablanca- an asylum in which the poet once sort refuge – a woman lies dying. She has walked out of the desert, her impossible survival without water or maps a mystery for those who care for her: the poetry-loving Frenchman Rene lafirche and the enigmatic Sister Antony. Into this sanctuary comes a jaded Australian embassy official, John Devlin, who has been sent to interrogate the woman… [ – apparently by the CIA!] …Lowing constructs a gripping, labyrinthine thriller that unfolds against brutal and beautiful landscapes – the desert, the mountains of Sicily, the jungle of Borneo, the streets of Casablanca. Clearly we have here a very ambitious novel. I remember being similarly astonished by the scope of “Cloudstreet” all those years ago; don’t be surprised if this novel receives similar attention. I could quote numerous passages of luminous yet compressed description – of buildings and seascapes, for example – that I went back and read again.
It is somewhat a LOVE story, but also has the elements of a “Le Carre” thriller. As with so many recent Australian novels of quality, there is a fascination with the novel as history, as Gleeson-White remarks in her discussion. While I would still be severely challenged to provide a linear summary of the plot of “Notorious”, it is an outstanding novel. I await
your reading of it, listeners, and I look forward to discussing it with some of you, my friends.
‘Notorious’ by Roberta Lowing ,A&W pb,pp 496,rrp $45
This Week’s Poem:
We ran out of time this week, to present a poem on air, but I had wanted to read from the Francis Thompson 1896 poem “ The Hound of Heaven”. Next week, hopefully….
Interview: Max Cooke- Veteran Piano Maestro
I felt very humbled speaking to Max Cooke, one of our Great Australian’s, surely. Here he was, discussing his memoir: “ A Pedagogue On The Platform – Max Cook’s Life In Music”, on our little program, the day before a grand performance by 100 pianists at “Rippon Lea” as a fund-raiser for the National Trust, and Max is in his 90s…Still teaching and still vitally interested in the pedagogy of music.
Some of our listeners will remember Max’s piano-playing from the days of ABC Concerts at the old Plaza and GAMA theatre. He actually finished his secondary schooling at Geelong College where he was taught by the wonderful George Logie Smith. Several notable locally-born musicians [Roger Heagney, for example] studied under Max at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music where he was Dean in the 1950s – and the work of which has been almost a lifelong passion.
It was evident from our brief conversation that Max is one of those rare RENAISSANCE persons, the lifelong learner: he reflected that he was almost 40 years into teaching music before he began fully to realize what the psychology of music and the learning thereof was about. The ‘science’ of learning, and knowledge about the piano as an instrument, led him in new directions. Max has been long involved in exceptional work on the relationship between general personal well-being and music. Indeed he wonders whether we all should not take pause and contemplate the impact music therapy/appreciation might have on the world’s ills; we already know that children who ‘learn’ music therapy thereby enhance their ability to learn across the board. He cited Finland where music therapy is part of all schools’ core curriculum.
Currently Max is tutoring two outstanding students, one from Indonesia, the other from China. He noted the abilities of Asian students in piano, drawn from an inherent awareness of cultural values – and a fierce work ethic.
Max’s very interesting and well-presented memoir is available from READINGS [in Carlton and Hawthorn] or from him directly, [Phone 03 9822 2959.]