Sunday, January 31, 2010

Book Fun

I've decided we can play a game.

There's no prize. Sorry. This is just for fun.

I'm going to type out the first one or two sentences of Australian books on my shelves. Let's see how many you guys can identify. I'll provide the answers later.

If you don't know any of them, I'd love to know which sentences seem the most interesting to you. If you had to choose one of these books to read, which would you choose?

I'm going to start with first chapters rather than prefaces, introductions, and forwards.

Note: some of these books are classic Aussie lit. Others are not quite that. They're books that happen to be written by Australians.

1. I arrived in the Alice at five a.m. with a dog, six dollars and a small suitcase full of inappropriate clothes. 'Bring a cardigan for the evenings', the brochure said.

2. It was a wild night in the Year of Federation that the birth took place. Horses kicked down their stable.

3. Your husband doesn't know you're writing this. It's quite easy to write it under his nose.

4. It was still very cool in the early summer morning; the fresh, clean air he breathed into his lungs felt good. He stood up and stretched his arms above his head then dropped them to his side.

5. If, in the New Year of 1788, the eye of God had strayed from the main games of Europe, the Americas, Asia, and Africa, and idled over the huge vacancy of seat to the south-east of Africa, it would have been surprised in this empty zone to see not one, but all of eleven ships being driven east on the screaming band of westerlies.

6. The hospital again, and the echo of my reluctant feet through the long, empty corridors. I hated hospitals and hospital smells.

7. In the breathless stillness of a tropical afternoon, when the air was hot and heavy, and the sky brazen and cloudless, the shadow of the Malabar lay solitary on the surface of the glittering sea.

8. I was born in the year 1894 at Maidstone in Victoria. My father left for Western Australia just after this, taking with him my two older brothers, Joseph and Vernon.

9. Boo, hoo! Ow, ow; Oh! oh! Me'll die. Boo, hoo. The Pain, the pain. Boo, hoo!

10. Stein woke that morning with blood in his piss and the taste of something more insidious deep within his brain. Strangely innocuous, deadpan-that was how it felt.

11. I don't know what I'm doing here. Well, I do really.

12. I was born in 1939. The other big event of that year was the outbreak of the Second World War, but for the moment that did not affect me.

13. The South Sydney Junior Leagues Club, 558a Anzac Parade, set in a suburb of what may be -in certain senses-the most democratic city in the world, would still be described in some countries as a working men's club.

14. The Caliphate spy, a Javanese carpenter known simply as Adil, resettled himself against a comfortable groove in the sandalwood tree. The small, shaded clearing in the hills overlooking Dili had been his home for three days.

15. Before first light we set out for the silent vale. It was a day's journey and we were led by a tall, gangling boy called Eli, who carried a small sword and two hunt knives at his belt.

16. In the first place, Abigal Kirk was not Abigal at all. She had been christened Lynette.

17. Down a long road all sun and shadowy with trees overhead and a slow look from cows across a fence and you're there. You see buildings with barred windows and a few people in grey clothes.

18. This is a frontways view of Bunyip Bluegum and his Uncle Wattleberry. At a glance you can see what a fine, round, splendid fellow Bunyip Bluegum is, without me telling you.

19. The bush was alive with excitement. Mrs. Koala had a new baby, and the news spread like wild-fire.

20. Cadel Piggot was just seven years old when he first met Thaddeus Roth. Dr. Roth worked in a row house near Sydney Harbour.

21. Children know when there are secrets. The house where I grew up reeked of them.

22. It's so quiet. I don't know what the time is, maybe two o'clock, three o'clock.

23. It happened after we bought this house. I couldn't believe mum was serious, at first.

24. Captain James Cook was in his boat fishing for a Potato Cod.

25. In 1787, the twenty-eighth year of the reign of King George III, the British Government sent a fleet to colonize Australia. Never had a colony been founded so far from it's parent state, or in ignorance of the land it occupied.

26. More foreigners are on the way. In Beresford's, someone looks up and sees Digby's truck float into view, suspended out there (maybe still twenty miles off, maybe only two) shimmering at the yellow edges of its cabin and rocking gently on the swell of its own heat wave.

27. All this you will come to understand but can never know, and all of it took place long, long ago in a world that has since perished into peat, in a forgotten winter on an island which few have ever heard.

28. Brightness falls from the air, and so do the words, which rush him. They swoop like starlings from the radio hooked to his belt, though before brightness, before Queens have died young and fair, the broadcast was blurred murmur, bits of music, bits of talk, voices heard but not listened to.

29. I first saw the photograph on a hot January afternoon in my mother's bedroom. She was asleep-so I thought-in the sunroom at the other end of the house.

30. The day before had been a day of rain and once again Lionel and I were busy in the chook yard. The summer rain started in the late afternoon.

31. "Stack me," said Limpy. "This is my lucky day."

32. Panic was my first reaction to the multiple choice options that lay on my desk in front of me. I glanced at the students around me before turning back to question three.

33. Keith's heart was pounding. Calm down, he thought. You're not robbing a bank. You're not kidnapping anybody. You're just painting a fish and chip shop orange.

34. Rose Pickles knew something bad was going to happen. Something really bad, this time.

35. For the first few days after Catherine's death, I find myself doing all the wrong things-though I'm not sure what the right things are. I'm fairly certain you're not supposed to lie in the bath listening to Abba when your girlfriend's just been killed in a car crash.

36. With the North Wind hard at his back, Scully stood in the doorway and sniffed. The cold breeze charged into the house, finding every recess and shadowy hollow.

37. This morning my mother didn't get out of bed. It meant I didn't have to go through one of her daily pep talks, which usually begin with a song that she puts on at 6:45 every morning.

38. What kind of house do you want to live in? Do you want to be a millionaire?

39. Eva Kennedy had just stepped into the cold March air when a watermelon rolled across the footpath in front of her.

40. The first time father was shot there was no warning. I was in the kitchen peeling potatoes with Emily.


  1. I wish I could join but cannot recall anything I have read at the moment because my brain is full of studies...

  2. sheesh Dina, that's a huge list!

    I like 11 and 3. 3 isn't that one you recently mentioned, is it? The nut in the insane asylum or whatever it was? Wasn't that written in the same style?

  3. Farila: I should probably already know this, but what are you studying?

    HappyOrganist: You have a good memory...I mean about the book I was talking about. But it's actually not it. Funny enough. There is another Australian book written in second person. I loved #11. I'm wondering if you'd like #3. I don't think you'd like #11.

    Some of them I can't remember now...and I just typed it out a few days ago. I have no idea what #39 is. Good that I wrote down the answers.

  4. Terrible. I only know number 18 which is The Magic Pudding.

  5. Andrew,

    Not bad. I've read all those books, and I still probably wouldn't remember a lot of them.

  6. Got back into college Dina and I am studying Eng Lit, Education and Psychology this time around. Earlier my interest lay in science and astrophysics. The dream was abruptly stopped back then but now I think I fulfill my dream of being graduated.

  7. #3 is the Bride Stripped Bare, isn't it?

  8. Farila: I think that's AWESOME. Personally, I think college is better for us mature woman than it is for young adults. We have more life experience, and know more about what we want to learn.

    Harriet Archer: Yes! : )

  9. Here's one from one of my favourite novels (not Australian):

    "When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home. I was wishing I looked like Paul Newman - he looks tough and I don't - but I guess my own looks aren't so bad."

    Does any body know it? The first sentence is also the last sentence as I think it was in the movie of the novel, if that helps jog anyone's memory.

  10. Belle,

    I know it!

    The Outsiders.

  11. Well Done! I was a big fan of Ralph Macchio when the movie came out.

  12. Martin,

    I liked him in Karate kid. Hey, how is your wrist, btw?

  13. Not fully healed but improving. I watched a double bill of Karate Kid and Ghostbusters 13 times when I was about 20 over a couple of weeks. On about the 11th time, they let me in for free. That's pretty weird, I guess (on my part, not the cinema's), but I enjoyed it so non, regrette rien. Non, je ne regrette rien. That's one of my favourite song lyrics, by the way.

  14. Martin,

    That is weird, but it just makes me love you all the more.

    I like people with passion.