Good Reading : October 2005
goodreading 7 What are you reading now? Annie Proulx: Close Range:Wyoming Stories. I loved The Shipping News, and I was expecting something like it except for its setting. Her writing is extremely evocative; her characters and their interactions challenging. Favourite authors? Too many to enumerate – but Thomas Hardy,Virginia Woolf, Isabel Allende, James Joyce and David Malouf are among the forerunners. Author you would most like to meet, and why? Isabel Allende. I’ve heard her inter- viewed, but I’d love to be able to get close to her, on a personal level, to be allowed to enter into her imagination, and her intellect, to lear n not only about her, but also about myself. Book you loved best as a child, and why? I read everything that was printed! We were very poor, but we received books for every birthday and every Christmas. I would get up early on Christmas morning, and read every book my siblings and I received, by the end of the day. I loved adventure stories, with Moby Dick and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea figuring large in my memory of childhood. My father was a fan of Ion Idriess, and I think I read every book he ever wrote. By the time my primary school days were ending, I had read Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar three times. Book you never finished or book you have not enjoyed? Many, but two that are really irritating me at present (in the same way that a bur r in the saddle does) are Sue Woolfe’s Leaning Towards Infinity and Gabriel García Márquez’s 100 Years of Solitude. I’ll keep trying. Book you have been meaning to read, but have never got round to? James Joyce’s Ulysses. It’s been on my bookshelf for decades! Favourite film of a book and why? I never like films of books. I guess I was put off at an early age, having read Robbery Under Arms, and then seen the film which in no way lived up to my imagination! Favourite fictional hero or heroine, and why? Sidney Carton in Charles Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities. His transfor mation or metamorphosis from delinquent/ dissolute to hero made a huge impact on me. The character is forever swathed in the rosy pink glow of childish romanticism. In some respects I expect that transfor mation to happen in real life, even today, in my job. All time favourite book? How does one ever choose? It depends on where I am at the moment. If I’m enjoying it, then it’s a favourite. Which books do you reread? A few years ago, realising I was becoming much too lopsided in my life, always reading Law and Psychology, I decided to re-read the Classics (yes with a capital C). I started with Dickens, then went to Trollope, Hardy, the Brontë sisters, Jane Austen, and progressed from there. By that time I was back into reading fiction, and other exciting things other than work. Your favourite place to read? In bed, in the lounge, in Chambers, on planes – anywhere that I can have uninter rupted peace and quiet, or need to be distracted. Do you use bookmarks or do you fold back page cor ners? Bookmarks. Some of them are works of art, and I just love them. I’m always buying them when I buy books, or just pick them up where they are going free. My father impressed upon me and my siblings that books are treasures, and should be treated accordingly. Favourite bookshops? Anywhere that sells books. Where are most of the books in your home? On the bookshelves, with some on the bedhead, and others scattered around the house. How are the books on your shelves organised? Mostly higgledy piggledy, but from time to time attempts are made at some sort of organisation. It makes for far more interesting reading! One sets out to pick up a particular book, but in the search comes across some- thing else which catches the eye. A few minutes spent flicking over the pages finds one completely caught up in reading it, unable to put it down until the call to dinner. pat o’shane me my shelf i Well-known NSW magistrate PAT O’SHANE was the first Aboriginal teacher in Queensland, the first Aboriginal ever to graduate in law, and the first woman to head a government department. She’s loved books since childhood.