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Blogging is to writing what extreme sports are to athletics: more free-form, more accident-prone, less formal, more alive. It is, in many ways, writing out loud. ~ Andrew Sullivan

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50 Bedtime Stories

Bedtime Stories

My son was born at 5:36 am on 2 June 2002. It had been a long night, and it was a long day (admittedly, more so for my wife!), and when I went home from the hospital that evening, it was with the surreal realisation I was a dad. I decided my first duty would be to buy a book of bedtime stories.

Microfiction Dream

Microfiction Dream

I once had a dream which felt so real and intense it reminded me of the 3rd-century BC Chinese Philosopher Chuang Chou, who dreamed, "I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, to all intents and purposes a butterfly. I was conscious only of my happiness as a butterfly, unaware that I was Chou."

The Catcher in the Rye

Do You Reread Books?

Penguin Books asked a good question on Facebook last year: Do you reread books? I've kept all my favourite books with the thought of one day rereading them. And then I start a new book, and it's added to my bookcase to read again — one day! However, there are three books I have reread at least once.

Favourite Beatle - John Lennon

My Favourite Beatle

My earliest memory of The Beatles is from when I was a five-year-old. It wasn't their music, but an article in the local newspaper, with a photo of John, Paul and George hammering an oversized nail into Ringo's head. My mother tutted and told me they were silly to play with hammers and nails.

Teaspoons

Writing Can Be Lonely

Writing can be lonely, especially if you're living on your own in a cramped flat, in another country, far away from family and friends. So when I lived in England in the early-1990s, I volunteered to work one afternoon a week at an Oxfam op shop. I needed to get out and meet and mingle with people.

Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham

My Love Affair With Somerset Maugham

I discovered Somerset Maugham in my early twenties when I borrowed a copy Of Human Bondage from a friend (which, to my shame, I never returned). The novel captivated me with its beautifully crafted tale of thwarted artistic ambition and unrequited love and sent me on a journey to read more Maughams.

Cloudstreet by Tim Winton

Cloudstreet by Tim Winton - Omen or Inspiration?

In May 1992, the local literary news was full of Tim Winton's success and his novel, Cloudstreet. I thought it an omen. Winton was thirty-one-years-old, and I was thirty. He'd grown up in W.A., and so had I. He'd just won his second Miles Franklin Award, and I was having a second crack at being a writer!

The Gorilla Hunters by R.M. Ballantyne

The Gorilla Hunters

There were old tea chests in a spare room at my grandparents' house, from which my younger brother and I unearthed 78 RPM records, 1940s Film Fun Annuals and Biggles books that had belonged to my father and uncle as boys. But the greatest treasure for this boy was a mint copy of The Gorilla Hunters.

The Books You Read At School - Animal Farm by George Orwell

Books You Read At School

Ask anyone who, like me, was a kid in Australia in the 1970s, "What books did you read at school?" and we're likely to recall at least three novels. For me, these three are the classics, the ones I had to read, analyse and write essays on in English. And I still have copies of them in my bookcase!

Anne Frank's Diary

The Diary of Anne Frank

Like many, I learnt about Anne Frank's story as a school kid. But it wasn't until my thirties, living in England, that I appreciated the full grace and horror of her life. I saw The Diary of Anne Frank at a Brighton theatre, read the Pan edition of her diary, and visited the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam.

Last Orders by Graham Swift

English Pubs and Last Orders

From 1987 to 1995, I lived in England and, as well as loving the English countryside, the quaint villages and towns, and the people, I loved the pubs. The pubs I frequented were social meeting places for men and women. And thankfully, not just somewhere for blokes to get plastered and start fights.

Their Finest: Large Print Edition

Large Print Editions

Having watched the movie versions of Their Finest and The Zookeeper's Wife, I was pleased to track down the books in my local library. The librarian, however, quizzed me with an arched eyebrow, "They are large print editions, is that okay?" It felt like she was telling me the books were in simple-English.

Songlines: The NMA Exhibition & Classic Bruce Chatwin Book

The Songlines

Over many years and many moves, I've cultivated and culled my book collection. Now have a manageable medium-sized library, books I haven't got around to reading and those I plan to read again ... one day! Somewhere along the way, I misplaced a favourite from the 1980s, The Songlines by Bruce Chatwin.

Tall And True Favourite Library

My Favourite Libraries

The futuristically designed library in Tianjin, China (aptly nicknamed, The Eye) is lined from floor to cathedral high ceilings with bookshelves, which follow the building's curved contours. It set me thinking about the libraries I've visited over the years and fondly recalling my favourites.

Tall And True microfiction on Twitter

We Need to Talk (Microfiction)

To celebrate the introduction of 280-character Tweets by Twitter, Meanjin Quarterly ran a microfiction competition. The rules were simple: tweet a 280-character story and include the hashtag #meanjin280. The top ten stories were published on the Meanjin Blog, and the authors paid one dollar a word.

Their Finest by Lissa Evans

Their Finest by Lissa Evans

It was a warm, lazy Sunday afternoon, and I took advantage of the day to sprawl and finish Their Finest by Lissa Evans. I was inspired to read the book after watching the film version — a British period comedy-drama about making propaganda films and life on the home front in London during The Blitz.

Ben Elton - Stark

Signed Stark by Ben Elton

I recently attended a special screening of Three Summers. After the film, there was a Q&A session with the writer/director, Ben Elton. I have loved his writing since reading Stark in 1989. So it was a great privilege to meet Ben in person after the Q&A and for him to sign my yellowed copy of Stark!

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