I just realised that it has been a while since I wrote in my own shallows so I am going to use April’s Bingo sheet and SuperWendy’s super convenient TBR challenge topic of “Something Different” to describe my last 2 months of life as well as my reading:
I have been incredibly busy. After a 12 month break, I am now teaching Digital Literacies at my uni’s pathway college. The content is really engaging and it is proving to be quite a different teaching space to what I am used to.
I continue to work twice a week at a public library in a ‘burb far far far away from my home. I am in awe of the excellent study culture in the community I work for. It is such a buzz seeing youth so deeply engaged in their studies. I am also a deselector for my library and there are times when deselecting feels like I am the more ominous Apollo of the Library World. The Apollo that brings down plague and pestilence to the world. Kill me now, for I hate deselection yet it has somehow become my specialisation over the last decade of library work. There are some gratifying moments like when you get rid of a book caked in snot but pleasssse, pleeaaaaase someone in the library world give me a selection job. I miss it desperately. Deselection makes me just want to tell all authors and publishers to give it up and stop fucking writing.
Yes, I am still stuck in a reading slump. I am struggling to engage with fiction, but friends of mine have pointed out that this is rather normal on the tail end of a PhD. This concerns me as part-time, self-funded PhD means the tail end is 18 months of not reading novels! Yikes! That’s a lot to miss out on! It is like being back in those black hole years called “Giving birth drained my soul and my brain”. This was a traumatic period of my life which took about 7 years (it IS the magic number) to get my reading mojo back.
I will not say anything more about my Phd other than the fact that it is a work in slow progress.
I have had a paper accepted at the Genre Worlds conference! I am soooooo excited about being able to present my research which I have been trying to articulate and capture for a good while. Now to finish writing my paper up!
My ultra exciting news (only 10 weeks to go!!!!) is that I am all booked for a two week holiday to Canada and the US. After months and months of vacillating, I have finally convinced my husband to come overseas with me (our first overseas trip without our sons *sob*). Yes, I am going to be attending the Romance Readers Meet Up in Montreal. Yes, it is a little bit crazy to head to the other side of the world just for a meet up but I feel that this is something I need to do. Back in 2009, I joined Twitter on the day before heading to the inaugural Australian Romance Readers’ Convention. The academic panel at this convention as well as the people I met both in person and online (due to my live tweeting of this event) changed the course of my life. It put me firmly on the path of scholarly research when, to date, I had sworn that I would never ever again study. I feel that it is only fitting to bookend (heh!) my PhD with another inaugural romance reader meet up. I’m excited for all the people that I will get to meet, especially the incredibly special Miss Bates and Jessica Tripler!
Sweet City Woman and Exploring and Wild Ride
That said, I am not restricting my trip to Montreal! Travelling so far around the world means making the most of the very $$$$ flights. So…. I am also going to Toronto, Quebec City, Maine (excitement!!!!), Boston and OMG!!! New York!!!! I feel like a child. Visiting New York has been on my To-Do list for as long as I can remember. I’ve booked my hotel, I’ve borrowed ALL the books, I’m (re)reading ALL the essays – Nora Ephron, David Sedaris, Adam Gopnik etc etc. I have resigned myself to not seeing Hamilton unless I win the lottery (dude – $450 a pop for the cheapest tix is a tad excessive!!!), but I am considering seeing Sleep No More. I have a wayyyyyy long list of places to go to (Central Park, NYPL, Ellis Island, Ground Zero, Highline, shopping, galleries, museums andjustallthewalkingaroundtheurbanspacesmyheartlovessodearly – but I would love more suggestions.
Meanwhile, what have I read?
I’m still listening to Georgette Heyer’s Lady of Quality. It has been my audiobook on the go for the last two months. It’s the usual thing, independent woman meets man of the ton and engages in witty repartee until she brings him to his knees. Zingers and fun. The book is set in Bath, England (West counties!) and I am only half way through. I have been enjoying the book but I really don’t spend enough time in the car to bother with audiobooks anymore. I’ll probably DNF it by Sunday as I have maxed out my library renewals for it.
I started reading Carrie Fisher’s The Princess Diarist and I like it. I cried my eyes out last December when she and her mum died within a day of each other (I’m a sap), so reading this book is rather bittersweet.
I am up to the Carrison chapter, at the moment – oh my! It feels weirdly voyeuristic but Fisher would have been completely deliberate in teasing my reading of this chapter. I keep wanting to shout “Can you get on with the story! Stop giving me your feels and deliberations about this big reveal!”. I bet she was laughing at herself as she drew this long drawn out chapter. Maybe next month I can report back on the rest of the book.
A Perfect Kiss and Belles
Lauren Layne’s To Love and to Cherish came recommended to me from Miss Bates Reads Romance. I didn’t mind this book. I managed to finish reading it which is a lot more than the 30+ books that I have not managed to get past 5 pages. This is a friends-to-lovers trope (one of my favourites) and set in New York. The NYC setting was great to read however it did make much of this book unbelievable to me. MC Alexis Morgan is running her exclusive wedding planning business out of a brownstone (which she also lives in) in Upper West Side. Now I don’t know much about NYC real estate, and I am happy to stand corrected here, but the prologue to this story has Alexis down to her last dime. Yet, I am supposed to believe that she could afford (even with a cashed up silent partner) this real estate which from my hours of house hunting down a real estate rabbit hole tells me is in the high six figures if not seven figure price tag – Yup – like $11million and I am not talking drachma!!!! Yeah, I know, wedding planner to the stars and rich people is a help, but by my calculations, Alexis established her glamour wedding company during the GFC so even more unbelievable. So this story placed her very much as a 1%er novel and frankly, if I am going to read a 1%er’s love story, I require it to be 180 pages long with a red cover. Suspension of disbelief when it comes to real estate is damn near impossible – I’m from Sydney, dammit. Once I pushed past the “Owns a brownstone in Manhattan” part, I was kinda on board for the rest of the romance.
Chasing the Light
Melissa James’ Outback Knight was given to be by a good friend who pointed out that the male protagonist, Jim was the first Mills & Boon Indigenous hero. The writing was not my fave style (a bit too many fraught feels for my liking) but the story was great especially in the second half of the book. Themes of reconciliation, stolen generation, love and forgiveness underpins this romance. The setting in both rural and outback Australia is just perfectly described. Melissa James’s sense of place made me feel like it is the country that I have driven through and stayed in all my life. Often in rural romance, this is romanticised and I just don’t feel it is the same place. The snake and spider squeamishness was on par with mine and I just love that this was despite the heroine Danni being a vet. I really loved how James depicts the hero’s aboriginality and the issues which have impacted his formally carefree life. I also like that he is the one from a deeply loving and stable family unlike Danni whose parents have created a horrible home life throughout her childhood. There are many allusions in this story and I really liked how they are threaded into the story. I do really recommend this book.
I now have a pussy hat! My friend Noula made it for me (impressed!). Which leads me to….
A cultural note: I get very sweary Australian here so if you get offended I would suggest you stop reading.
Sooo… I went to the theatre with friends a few weeks ago to watch Judith Lucy and Denise Scott in their stand-up show Disappointments. The show starts with them both in their jimmyjams lying in bed doing “lie in” comedy rather than “stand up” comedy because they are old. So yes, there are a whole lot of obligatory old jokes in the show, discussions turned to lovers, dry vaginas, their successes, sore knees, dry vaginas, nude suits, alcohol, drugs and more dry vaginas. I think I may have cracked the code – Judith & Denise are feeling old and so they put together an awkward piece where they are trying to challenge to the stereotyped old person. I have always had a love/cringe reaction to both these comedians and Disappointments did not fail to deliver my usual reaction. There were moments I laughed and laughed hard and other moments were their cutting wit sloppily tripped over the cringe comedy line into caustic, boringly predictable, crass and downright nasty. This has forever been my frustration with Judith Lucy who always starts off funny but it is as though she has never worked out how to not get nasty and crass (but then again, she probably relishes her nasty and crass and she does it deliberately because she thinks it is “pushing boundaries” whereas I consider it to be lazy craft).
Judith Lucy and Denise Scott’s attempts to make social commentary on women and ageing is quite hit and miss. The two of them were completely obsessed with Judith’s younger lover (as though she is some sort of revolutionary woman). They harp on and on and on about him to such a point that it really bothered me – especially when she started making comments about how he fucks his mother because “oooh! Shocking” when it was more “Ewww! You went there? You are creepy!”. Perhaps they should have gender swapped those jokes when they were testing them out. Or when they started chanting “cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt” just because it is soooo cutting edge and look at the two of them facing ageing without boundaries. Yet, they completely contradict their stance such as when they quite comfortably berated older women who wear their hair in pigtails. So it is OK to fucking swear like a chundercunt molester but the rest of us bitches need to get a better stylist?
As much as I enjoyed some parts of their show, I would like to send a big “Fuck YOU, Judith and Denise”. The swearing isn’t the boundary breaker. Give me Sandra Antonelli, give me Grace and Frankie, give me Deborah Jermyn, and give me Ari Seth Cohen any day before these two and their poorly thought out representation of ageing. Old is the new old. Revolutionary women don’t constrain other women into their vision of who they should be. Wear your pigtails no matter what your age is and fucking wear them proud.