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AWW2012 update

Whatever your preference, whether you’re a fan of one genre or a devoted eclectic, the 2012 Australian Women Writers Book Reading & Reviewing Challenge invites you to celebrate a year encountering the best of Australian women’s writing.

Last December I signed up for the Miles challenge to read 6 books by Australian women writers & review 3.

Here’s how I’ve done so far:

Helen Garner’s THE SPARE ROOM, finished 2-January: this is one of those books for my huge pile of ‘I admired it, I just didn’t like it’. This seems to be a common occurrence for me across all book genres: I respect what the author achieved even in as much as I didn’t connect with the author’s characters. It is probably not surprising, given how anti-social I am, that I fail to connect with most characters (since I can often fail to connect with most people). 

Justine Larbalestier’s LIAR, finished 10-January: I don’t know where I was getting all this reading time in January. Oh, that’s right, I became a shut-in that month. Can’t say too much about this one because it’s one of those books you experience, & guess at, & to say anything at all feels like giving it away.

Shirley Hazzard’s CLIFFS OF FALL, finished 28-January: gawd, have I fallen madly in love with Shirley Hazzard. This collection of ‘short stories’ (really, several are actually pieces from her novels – probably precursors to the novels, admittedly) was one of the great finds of 2012 & compelled me out of my refusal-to-buy-books (on economic grounds) and into a ‘must buy everything by Shirley Hazzard’ tailspin. 

Shirley Hazzard’s THE TRANSIT OF VENUS, finished 23-February: and so, straight onto another Shirley Hazzard, which I didn’t like so much but I admired even more. Damn, she is a smart writer! Her authorial cunning is so complete that I got to the end of the book and skim-read from the beginning again. This is a book that has been polished like a fine gem. Or like a stone that has been so *well* polished it’s begun to look like a gem! That’s how good it is, how smart, how beautifully expressed. Sadly, the ‘heroine’ at the centre of the book is one of those dastardly passive, wan types who sighs and mourns and *waits*, and whose emotions are – frankly, & I know it’s meant to be her saving grace, that ending – fickle. Yes, fickle! Finishing this book, I became wary of starting another Hazzard because I despised that heroine so much. Still on the ‘to do’ list, with 3 other Hazzards staring at me from the shelf.

Kristen Tranter’s THE LEGACY, finished 01-March: okay, this one confused me, but I’m looking forward to more Kristen Tranter in my future.

Katherine Howell’s COLD JUSTICE, finished 18-March: loved this one! Howell is a great storyteller & does wonders with dialogue. Also, marvellous use of Sydney without being self-conscious. There were multiple points of view in this book & I felt like something was missing from a couple of the characters, but I figure if I start from scratch with Katherine’s first Ella Marcone book, I’ll probably understand the characters better.

Anita Heiss’ AM I BLACK ENOUGH FOR YOU?, finished 17-May: this was just the right book at just the right time for me.

Tansy Rayner Roberts’ LOVE AND ROMANPUNK, finished 17-June: fantastic read, one of my favourites of the year! A short story collection that punks its sub-genres. Superb writing. If you buy only one small press book in your life, make it this one. And then buy a few more because, well, it’s a good thing to do.

Marrianne de Pierre’s GLITTER ROSE, finished 30-June (not reviewed): this is a lovely book, but for some reason I didn’t review it. Best do that now: one of the prettiest books I’ve ever bought, with its vibrant pink cover with gorgeous pencil-and-ink effect beach setting, it’s a collection of short stories around an alternative (or future?) Australia where lost people drift together to meet an alien intelligence/intervention (it’s not exactly spelled out). The book has a sweetness & yearning that I appreciate. Really just a charming book.

Gillian Mears’ FOAL’S BREAD, finished 23-September: bittersweet, impressive and cruel. I wanted something more from this book. Not necessarily more cruelty, though, there was enough of that.

Michelle L. McQuaid’s 5 REASONS TO TELL YOUR BOSS TO GO F**CK THEMSELVES, currently reading: it’s ironic that this book is written by someone I discovered while working for one of the worst bosses I’ve ever had (no, my boss wasn’t Michelle). Alas, this book came out too late to save me. I’m looking forward to acquiring its wisdom before the next bad boss.

So. That’s my #aww2012 reading list for the year so far: 10 books read by Australian women writers, & most of them reviewed. I guess I passed my Miles challenge. And actually, I seemed to have passed it sometime back in March. The rest of my reading has been gravy. Tasty, delicious gravy.

I suspect I’ll have time for one more #aww2012 book this year. Given the size of the stack I’ve built up, the hardest bit will be deciding which one. I still haven’t tackled Caroline Overington’s or Adrienne Ferrier’s books, largely because as the pile grew taller, it became harder to pull those books out without knocking over the whole darn thing. ;) My mother has just leant me Larbalestier’s TEAM HUMAN, which I’m keen to read, & I’m also looking forward to getting onto that Mears’ story collection. But then there’s Honey Brown’s AFTER THE DARKNESS and …

Yes. This clearly means I am signing up again for the challenge in 2013…