KILLINGS, daily columns and blog —

Recommended Reading

Recommended Reading: Joel Deane, author of The Norseman’s Song

by Estelle Tang , April 12, 2010Leave a comment

Welcome to the first Killings Recommended Reading post. Recommended Reading is literary voyeurism at its most gratuitous, a reader’s stickybeak. We investigate into the reading habits of writers we admire. Our first subject, Joel Deane, is a poet and journalist. His first novel, The Norseman’s Song, is being launched tomorrow night at the Treasury Theatre. The Norseman’s Song follows in the great traditions of gothic mystery and crime noir. But what’s on Joel’s bookshelves?

I read everything from graphic novels to poetry to literary fiction to, yes, gothic and crime fiction. I’m not interested in labels. What I’m after as a reader is a novel that’s trying to be novel and tell a story that’s never been told before in a way that’s never been told before. The works that stay with me are the ones that define or redefine the rules – or simply ignore them. I’m talking about crime and gothic stories like Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson, The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler, and The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket by Edgar Allan Poe. Come to think of it, just about anything by Poe. A number of related works also come to mind – Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, The Sagas of Icelanders, Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita, The Road by Cormac McCarthy, Deliverance by James Dickey, Ice and Who Are You? by Anna Kavan, Captivity Captive by Rodney Hall, just about anything by Graham Greene, the poetry of Emily Dickinson and William Blake and, graphic novel-wise, Frank Miller’s magnificent The Dark Knight Returns. I’m also partial to Garry Disher’s Wyatt novels and Peter Temple’s The Broken Shore. Didn’t mind the concept behind Nick Cave’s Murder Ballads album, either.

The writers that I admire are mostly poets – people like Dickinson, Blake, Dickey, William Shakespeare, Ted Hughes, Sylivia Plath, Robert Frost, W.B. Yeats, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Emily Dickinson, Frank Bidart, Frederick Seidel, Craig Sherborne, Chris Wallace-Crabbe, William Carlos Williams, James Merrill, and Homer. The two that have a formative impact on my work were Frost and Dickinson. I started reading Frost and Dickinson when I was fifteen and just starting writing seriously.

Frost taught me the importance of what he called sentence sounds – being awake to the rhythm, structure and sound of each and every sentence. Writing, at its most basic level, is all about the sounds words make when you bang them together.

Dickinson taught me about the need to write what needs to be said in the way that it needs to be said. Compromise is not an option. Dickinson created a body of work that is unambiguously hers – no-one else could have written those poems. That’s the ultimate achievement, I reckon, to produce something that achieves that level of originality and authenticity.

I’m reading Roberto Bolaño’s The Savage Detectives and enjoying it immensely – it’s epic and funny and literary – as well as Frederick Seidel’s savage Poems 1959-2009. Before that the most recent novels I’ve finished and liked were Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee (so good I couldn’t bare to read at times) and Things We Didn’t See Coming by Steven Amsterdam (a post-apocalypse novel that isn’t overshadowed by The Road). As a reader I’m after novels that are trying to be novel in the true sense of the word.




Frances Abbott

David Donaldson

Why #whitehousegate matters

A few days after the release of the budget, in which the Coalition government announced it was spreading the burden by increasing university fees, cutting school funding, and cutting welfare for young people comes a story that confirms what many already suspect to be the nature of opportunity: it’s much easier to come by if you’re born into privilege. Read more »

money

David Donaldson

When does lobbying become corruption?

Whether it’s Clive Palmer buying his way into parliament, the recent, varied ICAC revelations of dodgy fundraising in the NSW Liberal party, or the refusal or inability of successive governments to effectively tackle powerful corporate interests in industries like gambling, mining, media, and junk food, there is a feeling among many Australians that democracy is up for sale. Read more »

cluster munition

David Donaldson

How to make treaties and influence people

In an era when Russia can annex Ukrainian territory, when the Refugee Convention is regularly flouted, and when nobody seems to be able to do anything to stop the carnage in Syria, it can be tempting to ask: what can international law actually achieve? Read more »

1560682_10153899026420591_499501666_n

Eli Glasman

Just a number: The literary world’s obsession with age

I used to be obsessed about what age I would be when I had my first novel published. I’d go on the Wikipedia pages of every famous writer I could think of to check how old they were when their first book came out. Read more »

winterson

Carody Culver

Jeanette Winterson’s sacred and secular space

It seems that people either love her or hate Jeanette Winterson, and sometimes that has less to do with her writing and more to do with the occasional controversies she’s regularly sparked since 1985. Read more »

Untitled

Veronica Sullivan

Adventures in reality with Oliver Mol

One of Mol’s recent pieces contains the line: ‘I want to put my bare ass on the cover of my book because not only will it make good promo but it speaks honestly about who I am.’ Read more »

The Tunnel TV review

Julia Tulloh

The Tunnel vs The Bridge: The ethics of TV remakes

A body is found in the Eurotunnel, neatly laid across the border between France and England. When police attempt to move the body, it splits in two with the top half in France and lower half in England. Read more »

1398878478_lea-michele-brunette-ambition-zoom

Julia Tulloh

How to be beautiful, according to Lea Michele

Lea Michele’s new book, Brunette Ambition, is what you might expect from a fairly young television and musical theatre star. Read more »

Mariah Carey

Julia Tulloh

Is she Mariah, the ‘elusive’ chanteuse?

Two weeks ago, Mariah Carey launched her fourteenth studio album, Me. I am Mariah…The Elusive Chanteuse. Yes, that’s the real name, and it’s hilarious not only because the title is so long and happily shameless but because Mariah has long styled herself as one of the least elusive pop stars in the pop music galaxy. Read more »

lead_large

Rochelle Siemienowicz

On Boyhood, parenting and the passing of time

Since its premiere in January at the Sundance Film Festival, film critics have been falling over themselves to lavish love upon Richard Linklater’s Boyhood. Read more »

wetlands_poster

Rochelle Siemienowicz

Lucky Dip Diving: an approach to film festivals

I wanted to let go of the grasping desire to watch everything and be part of every conversation. But with the Melbourne International Film Festival in full swing, anxieties arise again. Read more »

Happy Christmas

Rochelle Siemienowicz

Joe Swanberg’s Real Women

In Happy Christmas, the female characters are a pleasure to watch, largely because they’re so familiar in life and so rarely depicted on screen. Read more »

owl1

Connor Tomas O'Brien

Speaking with pixels

On the Facebook Newsfeed, it’s now possible to click a tiny smiley face inside almost any textbox to bring up a series of thumbnail images: an alligator bawling into a tissue, say, or a whistling fox dropping a turd, or a green owl vomiting rainbows. Read more »

hbo-silicon-valley

Connor Tomas O'Brien

Silicon Valley will eat itself

At a certain point in the lifespan of any subculture, fiction and reality start to blur. Members of the subculture begin to model their character and appearance on the idealised representations of themselves they read about or see on screen. Read more »

inbox

Connor Tomas O'Brien

Death to the Inbox

The primary source of our ‘email problem’ seems to lie in our belief that email is a vastly richer and more capable medium than it is. Read more »

Untitled

Danielle Binks

How to buy books for young adults

‘Excuse me, where are the boys’ books? I’m looking to buy for a 16-year-old.’ When I overheard this question while browsing in a bookshop recently, I felt insta-rage. Read more »

detail

Danielle Binks

Fan-Girling Over Super Heroines

The testosterone-fuelled BIFF! BANG! KAPOW! of classic comics can seem uninviting, filled with spandex-clad men and swooning damsels who hold limited appeal outside the stereotypical 18-35 year-old male demographic. But things are changing in the world of comics. Read more »

9780143305323

Danielle Binks

Australia Needs Diverse Books

The ‘We Need Diverse Books’ team is made up of authors, editors and publishers from North America, but the #WeNeedDiverseBooks hashtag and campaign has reverberated in youth literature communities worldwide. Read more »

Jabberwocky1

Chad Parkhill

The carnival is over

Jabberwocky, scheduled to take place last weekend, was the kind of festival that wasn’t supposed to fail. Read more »

Robin Thicke

Chad Parkhill

Why has Robin Thicke’s Paula flopped?

What, exactly, has caused Paula to sell so poorly that it has already positioned itself as this year’s most memorable flop? Read more »

splash

Chad Parkhill

Queering the Power: The Soft Pink Truth’s Why Do the Heathen Rage?

The Soft Pink Truth’s new album ‘Why Do the Heathen Rage’ demonstrates that despite their superficial differences, dance music and black metal have a lot in common. Read more »

2014-07-03-theleftovers

Stephanie Van Schilt

TV pilots: The good, the bad and The Leftovers

With the wealth of shows on offer, committing to a new TV series can feel like a big deal. It’s often during a pilot episode that audiences determine whether the program is appealing enough to stick with for the long haul. Read more »

Alg-90210-jpg

Stephanie Van Schilt

Sick-Person TV

The only upside to getting sick was the many afternoons I spent curled up on the couch at home, watching daytime TV. I inhaled the drama of pre-recorded episodes of Beverley Hills 90210 while playing with my Brandon and Dylan sticker collection (interspersed with sporadic vomiting). Read more »

The_Million_Dollar_Drop_logo

Nicholas J Johnson

Highbrow vs Lowbrow: Nicholas J Johnson defends Lowbrow TV

I can’t stop looking at Eddie McGuire’s smug, stupid face. It’s not my fault. It’s just I’ve never been this close to the man before, and it’s not until now that I’ve realised how oddly smooth and tanned his skin is. As if someone has stretched the orange bladder from a football over a slab of marble. Read more »