Good Reading : September 2010
SEPTEMBER 2010 ı goodreading 7 me my shelf i garry mcdonald One of Australia’s most loved entertainers, GARRY MCDONALD is best known for his roles as Arthur in Mother and Son, and as the star of The Norman Gunston Show. He is a regular performer in films, TV productions and plays around the country. In 1997, Garry was honoured as a National Living Treasure and in 2003 was made an Officer in the Order of Australia. ● What are you reading now, and why? Inheritance by Nicholas Shakespeare. I knew I was doing his article and I thought I'd better read some literature rather than the mindless thrillers I nor mally devour. I am enjoying it; the first half more than the second half. I bought it before I read the reviews so I'll be interested to see if I agree with them. ● What are some of your favourite books and authors? Thrillers. I used to love the 'Stephanie Plum' series by Janet Evanovich but they seem to be running out of steam.They used to be very funny; Grandma Mazur in particular. Harlan Coben can be very entertaining, as can Jodi Picoult (I found My Sister's Keeper really interesting). I like Peter Temple and an McEwan; it just depends on how busy I am. If I'm really flat out I love to read potboilers -- three- day jobs; something easy and diverting. I adored 'The Millennium Trilogy' -- great storytelling -- and what a fabulous main character, Lisbeth Salander. ● Which books have most influenced your life? A book I found remaindered in the 60s in a Newcastle bookstore, The Yoga of Health,Youth and Joy by Sir Paul Dukes. Hatha yoga and all things Indian (this was after the Beatles discovered meditation) were very hot then. Sir Paul wrote about the philosophy of yoga as well as describing the asanas (postures). He described kundalini and I thought to myself 'I bet hardly anyone experiences that!'. When it happened to me unexpectedly 13 years later, I immediately remembered his description and so I wasn't frightened. A lot of Swami Muktananda's writings I found very inspiring and, of course, my guru Swami Shankarananda's books Happy for No Good Reason and Consciousness is Everything. ● Which author would you most like to meet? I would like to have met Chekhov -- an extraordinary man; such insight into the human condition. Uncle Vanya is the classic male mid-life crisis.The four acts document his descent from amusing, slightly cynical man to major depressive so accurately. One of the highlights of my career was playing Vanya in Adam Cook's beautiful production. Chekhov was a remarkable talent. I read one of his biographies which in turn gave me an insight into Stanislavski. Geoffrey Atherden's Mother and Son is very Chekhovian. ● What books have made you laugh? Bill Bryson always makes me laugh out loud. David Sedaris is very funny. ● Which books have you found inspirational? Darkness Visible by William Styron, for obvious reasons. A beautifully written book about depression. Power over Panic by Bronwyn Fox. This book helped me realise I had an anxiety disorder and Bronwyn helped me find treatment to overcome it. Nor man Doidge's The Brain That Changes Itself is very inspiring. I read that last year and became obsessed with it, the knowledge that the brain is so capable of rebuilding and adapting. I guess that's why I loved The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. ● Do you read e-books? I wanted to read e-books. I'm in the middle of a four-month tour of the eastern states of Australia and I wanted to purchase a Kindle to have on the road with me but Amazon kept telling me they wouldn't ship one to Australia. My wife has downloaded all the Jane Austen novels on her iPhone. The Kindle seems the perfect size but I have a feeling the iPad might swamp it. ● Is there a well-known book you did not enjoy? Heaps! Too many to name. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy, The Fatal Shore by Robert Hughes, 1788 by Watkin Tench, An Actor Prepares by Constantin Stanislavski! ● What did you read as a child? Mad magazine. An American satirical comic.Very funny. ● Do you have a favourite film of a book? The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is pretty good. If I really like a book I rarely go to see the film. Although I did love Little Dorrit;Tom Courtenay was remarkable. One minute you loathed him for being such a snob, the next you were crying because he was so sympathetic. What an actor! ● How are the books on your shelves organised? The Dewey Decimal System! And we employ a full time librarian! Shelves are loaded any old way I'm afraid. This is where e-books would come in handy. ● Do you have a favourite bookshop? I like Amazon because I can easily access secondhand out-of-print cookbooks. They go out of print so quickly. Also, things like crochet books are so expensive here but from Amazon they are much more affordable. Otherwise I like Dymocks -- the staff picks are handy. Garry McDonald is currently appearing with Henri Szeps in the production of Halper n & Johnson. For more details visit www.ensemble.com.au.