Good Reading : July 2006
JULY 2006 ı goodreading 7 me my shelf i ● What are you reading now, and why? The Broken Shore by Peter Temple. It is a great example of cur rent Australian crime fiction writing and easily sits high against the best in the world. I love Temple’s dark dry wit, his wonderful characters and plotting. He paints a superb picture of contemporary Australia and its contradictions. ● Who are your favourite authors? Looking back at the age of 60, my reading seems to illus- trate the journey of a typical baby boomer. From the early days with Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, John Steinbeck, then on to Flann O’Brien, Gabriel García Márquez, Harper Lee, Philip K Dick, Raymond Chandler, John le Carré, to the present with James Lee Burke, Ted Hughes, Cor mac McCarthy. Heck – I have missed out lots more. ● Which books have had the most influence on your lifestyle or philosophy? The Bible – I’m not at all religious, but the language of the King James version that I grew up with is stupendous, and the stories are the foundations of our literature; The Divided Self by RD Laing; The Hero With a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell; Ways of Seeing by John Berger; To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee; One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez and countless books on anything horticultural. ● Which author would you most like to meet, and why? Most writers are probably best left to themselves. Although I’d like to ask William Shakespeare how he wrote all those plays. ● Is there a well-known book you never finished? I never got to finish The USA Trilogy by John Dos Passos. I loved what I read, but I lost the book and it is a bloody big one. ● Which book/s did you love best as a child? In my early years my mother made it a habit to attend our local library every week with all us kids. We all had to take out books and I am forever grateful to her. In my early days I read anything by Enid Blyton as well as stuff like The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame and everything by Robert Louis Stephenson. I devoured all the Biggles books by Capt WE Johns. The wonderful books by the naturalist Gerald Durrell opened my eyes to a new world. Being born in 1945, in my teens I devoured copious numbers of biographical books about the Second World War: The Wooden Horse by Eric Williams, Boldness be My Friend by Richard Pape, The Colditz Story by PR Reid and a stack of stuff by Paul Brickhill, like The Great Escape and The Dam Busters, and the Aussie The Naked Island by Russell Braddon. They bring back wonderful memories. ● What is your all-time favourite book? Not a year goes by without me feeling I have just read the best book. It often changes with my moods. ● Do you have a favourite fictional hero or heroine? Atticus Finch, the father in To Kill a Mockingbird, is the first one that comes to mind. He is an excellent example of the quiet hero with inspiring ideals. I also love my heroes in crime books who have a degree of imperfection together with disturbing personal demons like poor old Dave Robicheaux in too few of James Lee Burke’s novels. After reading Joseph Campbell’s books you can see the hero in just about any story. ● Do you have a favourite film of a book? The Lord of the Rings trilogy was an enormous task and to capture the essence of that huge epic in those three films was a magnificent feat. Also To Kill a Mockingbird still stands out for me. It says lots about innocence, prejudice and tolerance. ● Where are most of the books in your home? As our inner city home is a bit too small for all our books, most of them are gracing the walls of our house up the coast. Mind you there are always a few in close proximity to my bed. I have a small library of horticultural books beside both toilets as well. My wife and I have great battles over what books stay in the shelves and which have to go. ● Looking at the books on your shelves, is there any one category that dominates? My tastes are still quite eclectic, but these days, crime, history and horticulture dominate. ● How are the books on your shelves organised – or aren’t they? I am terrible at organising my books. I leave it to my wife. ● Where is your favourite place to read? Anywhere that is quiet. ● Do you have a favourite bookshop? Brays Bookshop in Balmain, naturally. Although whenever I am in Melbourne I have to pop into Readings Bookshop. bruce spence The craggy features of actor BRUCE SPENCE are familiar to most Australians. He shot to prominence in his award-winning role in Stork, a comedy that revived the sagging Australian film industry in 1971. Perhaps his best-known recent roles are in Matrix Revolutions, Lord of the Rings 3: Return of the King and Star Wars 3: Revenge of the Sith. In 2005 Bruce won the Best Actor award for the winning film, Australian Summer, in the popular TropFest short film competition.