Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Review of Born Bad; original sin and the making of the Western World by James Boyce

It is a treat for the reader that a subject as bold, intricate and dense as original sin  has been examined by the eloquent James Boyce.  In his hands what may seem a terrifying subject is thoroughly examined and put through its historical, theological and psychological paces.

Born Bad; original sin and the making of the Western World traces the progress of the notion of original sin through Western Christianity, beginning with St Augustine, the man considered to be the father of Western Christianity through to the present day. 
St Augustine began to include the teaching of original sin and The Fall of man in his rhetoric following an unfortunate mistranslation of the bible; “(h)aving limited Greek, Augustine adopted the mistranslation of Paul used in the fourth-century Latin Bible known as the Vulgate, which state that “all men had sinned in Adam." It is remarkable to consider exactly how persuasive a notion that is not even in the bible has become central to the Western Christian psyche. The book charts this path chronologically, tracing how original sin has become a central tenet in Western Christianity.

As he recounts the history of this doctrine, Boyce introduces us to some of the fascinating characters who expounded or, as heretics, questioned it.

In tracing the lineage of this doctrine with obvious energy and interest, Boyce has given us many profiles of historical moments, contemporaneous thought and the people involved in progressing this doctrine – or otherwise. The book plays host to a wide range of characters,  for whom Boyce has an authorial respect for thinkers, heretical and otherwise, who have preceded him. 
Boyce’s obvious affection for and interest in Luther and the Reformation is on show in the chapter ‘The Meaning of Marrying a Nun.’ This chapter explains the greater effects of the Reformation and the thought and rationale behind it  and the reader is introduced to Luther as a person and to some of the aspects of day to day life in Luther’s house.

Another of the historical characters Boyce offers us is Julian of Norwich, the first woman to have written a book in the English language. This beautifully titled book, Revelations of Divine Love  was the product of meditations on her visions for twenty years and she fell on the heretical side of The Fall, with a belief in God’s love and the intrinsic purity of humans.

James Boyce is a two-time winner of the Tasmanian Literary Prize for two earlier works Van Diemen’s Land; a history  and 1835; the founding of Melbourne and the Conquest of Australia.   These books have also been recognised with other national prizes and critical accolades from around the world. His preceding books, while taking in colonial Australia are researched and related in the same fascinating and readable style. The attention to detail propels the case that he puts forward subtly, if at all, leaving the reader well equipped to draw their own conclusions.  

This is not a book that is at all easy to classify- myth, modern thought, psychology, theology, history, biography, social commentary are just some of the ways it could be defined. and as a book that both recounts huge historical and religious concepts in such a personable and descriptive manner it is both a challenge and an absolute delight to read. 

Here's the very first book related interview I did! James Boyce discussing Van Diemen's Land

First published in TasWeekend in The Mercury September 13, 2014
Born Bad
by James Boyce
Black Inc


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

David Vann on sailing, the sea, islands and his writing

David Vann is a writer of dark contemporary fiction – and nautica extrema. enjoyable interview and can be heard in full here. It was a most His latest book to be published in Australia is A Mile Down; the true story of a disastrous career at sea. It is a terrible and true tale of disaster after disaster that befalls Vann and a beautiful yacht. Vann is a sailor and his love of it is palpable, not only in his book, but the way he speaks about it. “The only thing that can keep me up all night is not thinking about writing a book or anything related to literature or love, it is thinking about the shape of a hull.”

He is currently translating Beowulf from Old English and discusses the mythic memory of language. Daily, he immerses himself in Latin and Old English. In a lot of his early fiction he draws from the suicide of his father, beginning with his first, grueling novel ‘Memory of a Suicide.’

In this interview you can hear him speak Old English and tell us why
“jokey” Moby Dick is his favourite book of the sea. He talks about the mistakes his German translator found in his prose and he ponders the influence of islands on our lives, our geographical trappings. “I spend most of my time on islands, I love them.”
  He talks about his early literary influence from Westerns and the fact that he’s read Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian six times. “I think literary influence is a mostly unconscious thing it is about immersion and loving something and re-reading over and over. I don’t think any of us are original as writers, I think we are all derivative of the works we have loved.”

At the time of the interview, he was reading Richard Flanagan’s latest book, The Narrow Road to the Deep North, which he was finding amazing. “He is definitely one of my literary heroes.”

This blog post is dedicated to my fabulous colleague Marg.

A Mile Down; the true story of a disastrous career at sea
Text 2014
This interview was first broadcast on Edge Radio on February 2, 2014

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Justin Heazlewood discusses 'Funemployed, life as an artist in Australia'

Justin Heazlewood sent his first book to publishers as a kind of business card. The writer, singer, comedian, stand up Bedroom Philosopher has now written a wonderfully personal account of being an artist in Australia. Published by Affirm Press, it is shot through with a range of practical tips for managing the aforementioned life and it includes interviews and comment from Australian artists, practising in many media, at many stages of their careers.
Heazlewood describes how “it too me ten years to morph from a diligently humble sweet natured star to an arrogant self pitying megalomaniac," and touches on topics like health (the alcohol industry is propped up by musicians and performers) to tax free breakfasts to when to do gigs for free and when to say no.
In his own words, the book is  “a bit of a Frankenstein between self help and memoir and journalistic non fiction. I wanted to home in on the personal emotional stuff, talking about fame, talking about jealousy, stuff that I never see people writing about much.”
You can hear the whole interview here.
Funemployed, life as an artist in Australia
Affirm Press 2014
This interview was first broadcast on Edge Radio on August 5, 2014

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Reading Room, Brigita Ozolins

"we have around 20 000- 30 000 books in here and they are lined on top of each so you can see the spines and the titles..."
"As it is below, so it is above."
Brigita Ozolins discusses The Reading Room.

23 July - 16 October 2011

The picture is of me in The Reading Room, This image, whose photographer, his name is Glen, I should acknowledge.
Years ago/

Nicholas Shakespeare - Conversation around 'Inheritance'.


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Nadine Kessler discusses book design

Nadine Kessler likes typography which is fortunate as she works with it daily as a typographer and designer, with a focus on publication design. She arrived in the studio armed with some very attractive books and was a fabulous guest to feature on episode 1 series 2, The Book Show on Edge Radio. You can listen to the full interview here.
Nadine talks about the beginning of books and the mass production that began after Gutenberg invented the letter press with moveable type and she talks about the days when scribes had to copy books by hand. We discuss the benefits of taking a knife to the spine of a book as well as the best ways to handle the object without cracking its spine or participating, unawares in other book torture.
Talking about the design of the recent Mona catalogue ‘Beam in Thine Own Eye,' the art work from which was really the result of work created in the viewer’s own mind, stimulated by the external “I found this really beautiful paper which is reflective, it is the play with whatever you
reflect in your mind.”
At the time of the interview Nadine was working on a new catalogue for Mona’s most recent exhibition.
For further information and too see Nadine’s work, check out her website.

P S a Big Thank You to Artifact in Swansea for sharing their wifi with me.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Family First discusses arts in Denison

Trevlyn McCallum, the candidate in Denison for Family First is a reader. You can listen to the full interview with him here.

Family First have developed 15 core policy areas but they have no specific policy about arts and culture. They do have, however a high regards for arts, literature and culture.
Literature and art comes out of a healthy culture and that society drives that.
They are there to give families and small businesses the opportunity to express themselves in a way that is wholesome and good for our culture and our society. “One of the key driving factors behind our cultural expressions in art and literature primarily sits elsewhere,
"Having the ability and resources to do poetry and to write literature, we need those resources,
"One of the first things Family First would be looking at would be tax complexity and tax rates across the Australia. We are looking at reducing tax making it easier to do business, be it a NFP art studio or any other small business across Australia we are looking to reduce the tax rate to 20% which will increase the resources to put into arts and culture and literature endeavurs.
"I think a healthy community will produce good wholesome, healthy art and the other way around too, good wholesome art and cul;ture and literature helps a society to grow and be more mature as a culture, as a civilisation.
"Family First is a family values driven party and the primary driver for policies is what is in the best interests of ‘the family’ and children in our society. 
"We certainly don’t want to have art that’s out in the public eye that is not for their (children's) eyes, so good wholesome art needs to consider the audience and who it is being presented to.
"We can get into it; what ‘good and wholesome’ is, I think there is objectivity to art and objectivity to culture and to literature as well and it gets down to the debate about what is good and what is not good.
As a Family First candidate, personally, I am a Christian I can take an objective stand and say something is right or wrong based on my world view and assumptions."
Trevlyn loves to read, though his time is squished, but he is ‘audio reading’ in the car on the way to work. His family is a one of readers and they encourage their children to read a lot of books across a lot of genres. His son read over 250 books last year!
He enjoys historical fiction and can’t go past  PG Wodehouse.
Again, the full interview here.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Debra Thurley for Palmer United discusses arts in Denison

Debra Thurley thinks the area encompassing arts and culture area is one where "Tasmania can really shine from a tourism perspective and that the value and arts and culture in a community can sometimes be understated. Listen to the full interview with her here.
   At the time this interview was conducted, Debra Thurley, the candidate for the House of Reps in Denison for the newly formed Palmer Untied Party hadn't had a chance to discuss arts and culture but they were heading into a discussion that weekend where it was hoped it would be put on the table. 
  Debra feels that art and culture is “vital” and it one of those glue factors that unite a community, "Denison is so exciting with such a tremendous mix of people. We are destined for being the place to be. "The times ahead are extremely exciting because I am sure this election, no matter who wins will bring about some positive change.
"We are very fortunate here in Denison to have the Mona effect.
"I would absolutely like to see more support for the arts. As I said before, I am a sports fan but I think the two absolutely run parallel with keeping people involved.
"It does stimulate the mood of a community so it is really really vital.
Debra would, if elected, seek to remedy the loss of funding for the Tasmanian Theatre Company. (who have finally been recognised again by the State government, with some funds for 2014).
  Debra agrees that the connection with art and health is vital. "Art is such a wonderful way of expressing what can be an internal emotion so there can be a massive connection between that area as we focus on health and preventative measures and proactive measures."
When it comes to reading at the pointy end of a campaing, "I don’t have any time to read I am also a student through Griffith University studying workplace relations so I do have a  very busy schedule."
She does really like Irish female writers and always tries to have some fiction on the go "but the trouble is by the time I get to bed I am asleep but I just adore reading.
"Of course I read newspapers front to back including some of the papers from the mainland and of course I am supportive of some Tasmanian literature as well. I have always been on the verge of enrolling myself in one of the writing clubs.
"If someone asked me what would be the ideal thing I would do in the years ahead I would like to go back to uni and do English lit. I am not writing anything at the moment but I do have this aim, they do say there’s a book in all of us and I go to start it and I realise it takes a lot of time and you do need to be free of all distractions. That, to me is one of my goals in later life."
She doesn’t have a favourite Tasmanian writer, but Rachael Treasure was a guest at one of their business meetings. “I bought three of her books and I must admit they are still sitting on the shelf as I haven’t got to read them yet. It was amazing to think she could incorporate her unique lifestyle into her books. I enjoyed her because she is an effervescent girl and she was a very interesting person and I enjoyed meeting her."
The full interview can be heard here.