Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Book, Interrupted

I'm on page 219 of The Fatal Shore by Robert Hughes.

I started reading it while in Portland and read it on the plane ride home to Texas.

I have library books out though, and I've decided I will take a hiatus from The Fatal Shore and continue reading it after I finish the library books.

I finished a short story collection that had also been on Hiatus when we left for Portland.  Dark Roots by Cate Kennedy.  Pretty good book, by the way.   I read another book by Brigid Lowry. Follow the Blue.    I liked it a little less than Guitar Highway Rose, but still found it worth reading.   The ending was original and creative.   (Yes, I told you before.  I'm horrible at book reviews!)

I seem to have a habit of disliking books that have won prestigious awards. Wolf on the Fold by Judith Clarke was a strong exception for me.   The format of this book is a mixture of novel and short story.   The short stories are woven together by a family tree.  The first story centers around a young boy during The Great Depression and the subsequent stories center around his future children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.  

My only complaint about the book is a misprint on the family tree.  It lists the initial main character as dying in 1943.  Yet, by reading the novel you can see that this is definitely a mistake.   The family tree though is so helpful.   I wish all novels with multiple generations would include one. 

The funny thing is the next library book I had on my shelf to read was the memoirs of Robert Hughes, the guy who wrote The Fatal Shore.

It feels kind of weird to read the memoirs of a person who wrote the nonfiction book you're in the middle of reading.  It's kind of like when you take a break from reading something and google it to get some background information. But now I'm taking a break to read a whole damn book on the guy. 

I guess I'm a little nervous about not liking Hughes. If I end the book with a dislike for him, will I lose interest in reading The Fatal Shore?

The guy IS a bit grumpy, but so far I kind of like him. He seems fairly honest to me--well at least honest in his anger towards people who have wronged him.   The guy was in a really bad car accident that caused him grief in many ways.   He kind of reminds me of Stephen King with his car accident.

Stephen King seems to have a lot of resentment and anger over the accident--enough to include it in his fiction.

I can't blame either guy.  I'd probably have a lot of unresolved anger if I was in a horrible car accident.

Hell, I HAVE a lot of unresolved anger without being in a car accident.

I don't yet know (or will I ever know?) if Hughes is a nice guy or not--or whether he's the type of person I'd want as a friend.   I do definitely know that he's a good writer.

He has some great quotes.

One of my favorites so far is this one:

Generally speaking, if an Australian event doesn't involve a monster crocodile, a giant shark ,or Nicole Kidman, it won't go anywhere in America.  KILLER CROC CHOMPS NICOLE: a good Murdochian headline, almost rivaling his New York Post's classic HEADLESS BODY IN TOPLESS BAR.


  1. Hughes got a raw deal, I believe. He had a head-on collision on an outback road in circumstances that indicate to me that he simply had a microsleep episode. Although the consequences can be catastrophic, that can happen to anyone, very easily. I used to think it was only negligent truck-drivers pushing their luck who went to sleep at the wheel - until the first time I did shiftwork. I'd never have believed that you could be perfectly alert, standing up and talking, then involuntarily pass out for a second with the steering wheel of a moving vehicle in your hands just ten minutes later. Then it happened to me. Fortunately, I was able to pull over and avoid disaster. In Hughes' case, I think he just made the same miscalculation without the accompanying good luck. He told the truth, which was that he just couldn't remember the incident at all. The prosecutor went after him like a rabid dog, I think, just for the sake of the prize scalp on offer. Two of the three guys in the other car offered to dud their testimony if Hughes would pay them off and he dobbed them in. When, in the aftermath, the magistrate dismissed the charge against Hughes the WA Director of Public Prosecutions (a tenured civil servant) still went after him like a New York DA facing a tough election. Then he had the cheek to sue Hughes for defamation when Hughes rubbished him back. It was eventually settled with Hughes paying the idiot off. He also pled out on the dangerous driving charges. I think this was because he just couldn't hack the fight any longer with the terrible injuries he had sustained.

    On the subject of grumbling, he write a book called "The Culture of Complaint" which I found quite good reading.

  2. Retarius,

    And the guys he hit had a criminal record. The whole thing sounds suspicious.

    If not that, very unfair. Hughes is the one who ended up with the horrible injuries. If it was his fault (accidentally) it seems he was punished enough.

    The falling asleep thing sounds a bit like narcolepsy. I don't know???

  3. Not narcolepsy, just the product of extreme underlying fatigue. Hasn't it ever happened to you? The usual circumstances that produce it are a combination of sleep deprivation followed by a repetitive task. The strange thing is, you can know it's happening, and you still just can't resist it.

  4. Retarius,

    I get sudden attacks of extreme drowsiness where I can't stop myself from falling asleep. It never has any correlation to how much sleep I've had.

    It's fortunately never happened to me while driving. I do usually get some warning so if it did happen, I could probably pull over.