Good Reading : May 2007
12 goodreading ı MAY 2007 book trivia Ignorance is bliss … The claim on the dust jacket flap says it all: ‘This book will make you feel very small and silly.’ It’s a com- pilation of popular misconceptions, mistakes and misunderstandings – such as the fact that Henry VIII had two wives (or four if you’re a Catholic), not six; that the largest living thing is a mushroom, not the blue whale (the largest recorded specimen of the honey fungus Armillaria ostoyae covers 890 hectares of a national forest in Oregon); and that Cinderella’s slippers were made from squirrel fur, not glass, Charles Perrault (who wrote the popular version of the medieval tale we know today) having misheard the word vair, squirrel fur, and substituted verre, glass. The Book of General Ignorance is a fascinating tome guaran- teed to turn you into the smarty-pants of the party if you absorb its erudite con- tents. It has a foreword by Stephen Fry, who hosts a popular and related television quiz show called QI (which stands for ‘quite interesting’), and it’s published by Faber & Faber, rrp $29.95. Check out the QI website, www.qi.com, for more humiliating myths we’ve believed in all our lives. Romulus and Raimond Romulus, My Father, the acclaimed biogra- phy of his father Romulus by Raimond Gaita and winner of the 1998 Victorian Premier’s Award for Non-Fiction, has been turned into a feature film directed by Richard Roxburgh and starring Eric Bana, Franka Potente and Marton Csokas. Romulus Gaita fled his home in his native Yugoslavia at the age of thirteen, and came to Australia with his young wife Christina and their infant son Raimond soon after the end of World War II. Raimond Gaita has an extraordinary story to tell about growing up with his father amid the stony paddocks and flowing grasses of country Australia; says director Roxburgh, ‘The singular thing about this story, given its tragic dimension, its almost biblical reach, is how strangely uplifting it is.’ The film opens nationally on 31 May; at the same time, the audio book read by Raimond Gaita will be released by ABC Audiobooks, rrp $39.95 (see our review of this on page 32). ABC Radio National will broadcast the recording of Gaita reading his popular memoir on ‘First Person’ at 10.45 am daily (straight after ‘The Book Show’) from 18 June. Phillip K Dick celebration On the 25th anniversary of the death of world- renowned science fiction writer Phillip K Dick (1928-1982), publisher Gollancz is reissuing the best of his books. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (filmed as Blade Runner); Dr Bloodmoney; Flow, My Tears, he Policeman Said; Martian Time- Slip; The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch; and Human Is? A Phillip K Dick Reader will all be published in June this year as $22.95 paperbacks. Living link Centenarian Norrie Woodhall is the last living member of the original Hardy Players, set up in Dorchester, Dorset in 1908 by a group of enthusiastic amateur actors to perfor m stage adaptations of Thomas Hardy’s novels. The New Hardy Players were for med in 2005 to celebrate Norrie’s 100th birthday, and Nor rie has perfor med readings of Hardy’s work with them ever since. Norrie met Hardy himself in 1924, when he cast her as Tess’s sister Liza Lu in a staging of Tess of the D’Urbervilles. The original Hardy Players were disbanded after Hardy’s death, aged 87, in 1928. Calling writers and illustrators In conjunction with the Brisbane Writers’ Festival, the Children’s and Young Adult Writers and Illustrators Conference 2007 is running a writing and illustra- tion competition with a deadline of 11 August. The shortlisted entries in each category will win a prize and will be submitted to a children’s book publisher. All shortlisted entries will be displayed in Illustration House, South Bank, for duration of the Brisbane Writers Festival 2007 this September. The conference has the engaging title CYA Later Alligator (see their logo, above). Go to www.cyaconference.com for more information and a list of categories.