Thursday, May 28, 2015

Novels, Thank You, Don't Be Daft, and Jervis Bay

1. Dreamed about Australian literature: I talk to my friend Tracey about Australian books. I tell her when I first became interested in Australia, I asked for book requests. The books suggested to me were very literary. I complain that no one told me about the more mainstream books.  Then I feel bad, because I remember she's the one who put the list together for me.  

The dream is somewhat true.  I met Tracey on Livejournal, and when I became obsessed with Australia, she asked her fellow Australians to recommend books to me.  

I'm not sure what was recommended to me, and I'm too lazy to search through Tracey's Livejournal archives.  I'm guessing, though, that it was the usual suspects—Tim Winton, Peter Carey, Bryce Courtenay, Puberty Blues, The Bride Stripped Bare, Searching for Alibrandi, and John Marsden's Tomorrow series.  

The dream made me wonder, though. Does Australia have a lot less big commercial/mainstream writers than the US?  I'm thinking of authors like Stephen King, Anne Rice, Jodi Picoult...and many others. My mind is drawing a blank here. But I'm thinking of writers who have written several novels, and most of those novels end up on bestseller lists. Another criteria is that the books are fairly easy reading—fast paced. It's not a struggle to get into them, and it doesn't take a lot of brain stretching to follow them.

2. Decided that the only Aussie author, in my mind, to fit the commercial/mainstream category is Liane Moriarty. I think she's written several popular books. They're easy—beach type reading. Though I don't know if she's as popular in Australia as she is here in the US. I'm guessing she is. Probably? 

3. Thought about how the Australian literature that seems the most prevalent and talked about is literary, children and young adult, and science fiction/fantasy.  From what I remember seeing, there are a lot of Aussie science fiction/fantasy writers. Or maybe I just imagined that. If it's true, it's kind of funny, since Aussie television is so lacking in science fiction.  

4. Looked at a list of fifty must read Australian novels. Some of them were probably on that list Tracey gave to me, but I forgot about them.  

5. Saw Geraldine Brooks's book, on the list, and wondered if she could count as mainstream. Yeah, probably. I'm not sure.

6. Decided Bryce Courtenay's The Power of One could be in the mainstream/commercial category rather than the literary one.  

7. Saw Coleen McCullough's The Thorn Birds.  I think she too would count as a commercial writer.

8. Realized I might be quite wrong about thinking Liane Moriarty is the only Australian of mainstream fiction.

9. Saw John Birmingham on the list. His books are pretty mainstream

10. Found article about literary vs. mainstream, because I'm not sure I have it straight in my head. 

One thing it says is:  Literary fiction tends to focus on complex issues and the beauty of the writing itself, and your novel may rely more on action, which is the tendency of mainstream fiction.

I think, though, that it's hard to draw a line between the two, because mainstream novels also deal with complex issues. But maybe...yeah. They have more action.  I don't think the action has to involve car chases and gun fights. It can just mean that more stuff is happening.

11. Decided that, after reading the article, I'm more confused than ever.

12. Decided to use my own definition of literary and mainstream.  If you're reading quickly, feeling relaxed, and can't wait to find out what happens next, you're probably reading mainstream fiction. If you're reading slowly, feeling kind of depressed, and are having to concentrate hard on the words, you're probably reading literary fiction.

All that is thrown out the window, though, if you don't like the book...well, especially with my definition of mainstream fiction.

Another way to go about it is this. If you're reading a book that has been honored by the Booker Prize, you're reading something literary. If you're reading a book that is on a bestseller list, you're probably reading something mainstream. Although that doesn't always work, because sometimes literary novels become bestsellers.

13. Looked at the Angus and Robertson site. They have a list of the top 100 books. I'm guessing they're bestsellers, because that's what I searched for on Google.

The top seller is a British book. Can you guess what it is?

14. Looked at the top ten books. Three are Australian. Five are American. One is British. And one is Canadian.

Four are young adult books. One is a children's book.

I've read seven of the books. What makes me feel like a failure is, two out of the three I haven't read are the Australian books. And one I've never really heard of before. I've gotten out of touch with the whole Australian literature thing.

15. Decided to confess that lately I've come to the horrific realization that I prefer television to reading. It's shocking for me, because I've been a bookworm my whole life. It's just I'm frustrated by all the books I've read and didn't like. Then when I read a really great book, I'm thinking, that was wonderful, but I still would have found more enjoyment from watching a TV show.

I also used to be a huge movie fan, and that stopped for me as well.

Soon I'm going to turn into someone that my younger self would have never recognized.

16. Saw Kate Morton on the Angus and Robertson list. I think she's quite popular here. I've read a few of her books. My mom has read them too. I think, if my mom reads and likes a book, it's mainstream. She tends to read books that are popular.

17. Saw Liane Moriarty's The Husband's Secret is towards the bottom of the list (83 out of 100). It surprises me that she doesn't have a book higher on the list.

Let me check again. Maybe I missed one.

18. Checked again. I'm still not seeing it.

You know who else I'm not seeing? Stephen King? But maybe my eyes are blind to his name as well.

19. Looked at USA today bestseller list. The Husband Secret is #48. So it seems Americans like that book more than Australians do.

What's weird is that I thought Moriarty had a more current book. I would think that would be the most popular. But maybe people liked it less and recommended it less?

20. Decided the Australian list of bestsellers might not give an accurate picture, because it comes from one bookseller. It could just be that the type of folks who shop at Angus and Robertson aren't the type to be Liane Moriarty or Stephen King fans. Maybe the people who read Moriarty and King books shop at Amazon. They might be reading on their Kindle.

21. Saw that I have sold only one of my Kindle books in the last 90 days. That's REALLY bad.
But maybe it's part of the reason I don't like books as much anymore. It's a reminder of my own failure. And it's frustrating when I read crap books, and sometimes end up thinking, my books are better than that!  Of course, it's all a matter of opinion. There's no gospel that says my books are decent, and the books I dislike are crap.

22. Decided I'm not too bothered by people not buying and reading my novels. I'd rather have people reading my blogs.  I don't really like people reading my fiction. I just want the money. But unless thousands of people buy my book, I'm not going to get enough money for it to matter.

23. Started watching an episode of The Saddle Club.  I decided to look up the actor playing Raffael, even though I didn't recognize him. Sometimes I look up actors, even if they don't look familiar. At times I've ended up with a fun surprise. For example, there was a child on Home and Away (Ben, I think?). I looked him up, and it turned out I had previously seen him as an adult on Packed to the Rafters.

Anyway, I'm glad I looked up Raffael, because it turns out I do know of him. He's played by Damien Bodie, who I saw on the first season of The Elephant Princess. He played Vashan!  I liked Vashan. He was a cool villain.

24. Saw that recently Damien Bodie was one of the stars of Winners and Losers.

25.  Wondered if Winners and Losers will ever be available on Hulu. I hope so.

26. Impressed with the wildlife the Project 2014 blogger saw in Jervis Bay. He has pictures of Kookaburras, rosellas, and kangaroos.  I don't necessarily want to return to Halls Gap, but I'd like to go somewhere similar—meaning a place where it's easy to see a lot of wildlife. And I mean wildlife in the wild. Though I also like seeing wildlife at animal parks and zoos.

27. Saw that Jervis Bay is about a 3.5 hour drive from Sydney.  Though it's in the same area as Kiama, and all that...which we've already done. So we wouldn't really be stretching ourselves and trying something new if we went there.

28. Looked at a photo of Firass Dirani being naked.  I know of someone else who might want to see that.

29. Read Nikki's sad post about breaking her iPhone. It's pretty stressful.  I think for anyone it's a somewhat painful loss. But Nikki was living in a new place (South Africa) and I think she was somewhat homesick for her last expat place (Hong Kong).  Her iPhone was her method of keeping in touch with the world, and then she lost that.  I think, a situation like that would make me depressed.

30.  Read Bec's post about her love of the Twilight series and The Hunger Games. I loved Twilight and I liked The Hunger Games. But now I've grown so tired of teen series books—especially anything dystopian or involving vampires.

31. Wanted to clarify something. It might seem like I'm going off of the whole Australia topic with #29 and  #30. But all these blogs I'm talking about...they're written by Australians, or people who live in Australia.

32. Watched Coronation Street and wondered if Australians say Don't be daft as much as British people do. I think I heard it on one of the episodes of Wentworth. It was in response to someone saying Ta (Thank you). Or maybe they actually said, thank you. I'm not sure.

On Coronation Street, they say it quite frequently.  Someone could probably turn it into a drinking game.

33. Thought of the different ways to respond to someone thanking us—you're welcome, my pleasureno problem, don't be daft, no worries, That's all right, and It's okay.  The latter two are my least favorite. It sounds to me like the person didn't really want to do you the favor, or give you what they gave. They're not saying, It's wonderful to be able to do this for you. They're saying it's merely okay, which makes me think they'd rather NOT have done what they did.  That being said, if it was a begged for and reluctantly done favor, it seems appropriate.  For example, on Coronation Street, someone was asked to work on his day off. He didn't want to, but eventually said yes. In that case, I think it's totally cool to respond to the thanks with a It's okay.

You're welcome is polite, but a bit formal.

I used to dislike no worries in response to a thank you, but then I started hearing That's all right and It's okay. In comparison, I prefer no worries.  I think no problem would be in the same boat.

My pleasure is one of the nicest ones. It expresses the idea that the person actually enjoyed doing you the favor. Although it would sound a bit odd if you were thanking them for a kidney or cleaning up your vomit.

Don't be daft is like a bandhanded insult.  It's like saying, don't be silly. You don't need to thank me. Of course I'd do this for you.  

34. Looked at my texts and saw another way to respond to thank you's: No response! I saw I did that in response to a thanks from my sister, and my dad has done it to me several times.  I get the idea I've done it other times as well.  Is it rude?  Maybe. It hasn't bothered me.  In a way, I think it's similar to the don't be daft.  It's like saying, the thank you wasn't even necessary, so I'm just going to change the subject.

But of course the thank you IS necessary. I think thank you's are very important. It's just nice to ACT like the thanks is not needed.

While not responding works okay in text. I'm not sure it would work in face to face conversation. Then someone might think we've lost our hearing....or we're ignoring them.

35. Realized I have no idea how I respond when people thank me in face to face conversation. I really hope it's not That's okay or it's all right.

Maybe I make some kind of grunting sound.

I think sometimes I thank them back. A lot of times that actually makes sense.  It ends up being a type of mutual thing.  For example: Thanks for coming goes along with thanks for inviting me.

36. Decided to take a break from Coronation Street and watch another episode of The Saddle Club.

37. Found it hard to believe that Raffael and Vashan are one and the same. They look so different. I think the main thing is that Vashan has a beard.

38. Ran into another blog post about Jervis Bay.  No, no actually it's not about Jervis Bay, but it's mentioned. Troy Hixon says they're in Bateman's Bay, which is an hour and half from Jervis Bay. I think they're heading there later. Although later is in the past now, because the blog post is from 2010.

39. Went to the Mogo Zoo website, because Hixon mentioned it in his post. I think it's between Jervis Bay and Bateman's Bay.

40. Looked at Google Maps. The zoo is actually in the opposite direction of Jervis Bay. But that makes sense. Hixon said they're going to Jervis Bay, but first they're going to the zoo. If it was the zoo was between the two places, he'd probably say they were going to stop at the zoo on the way to Jervis Bay.

41. Saw that the Mogo Zoo doesn't have a lot of Aussie animals, but they do have a lot of different monkeys.

42. Counted the monkeys. They have eight different types. Then they also have lowland gorillas and three different types of gibbons.

Gibbons can be quite adorable.

43. Found out that I'm wrong about the monkeys.  Two of the primates, at Mogo zoo, aren't monkeys (or apes). They're lemurs. So there are six types of monkeys, two types of lemurs, one type of great ape, and three types of lesser apes.

One of my past obsessions was primates.

44. Felt that the acting by the two younger girls (Janelle Corlass-Brown and Jesse Jacobs) on The Saddle Club is more tolerable to me than that of the older girls.  I especially like Corlass-Brown. She reminds me of one of my nephews, for some reason.

45. Wondered if it's not the acting I dislike, but the characters themselves.

Maybe I just dislike the Saddle Club girls themselves, and it has nothing to do with the actors.

I'm actually okay with Carole. She seems cool.

It's Stevie I don't like. It started in the first episode when she was so mean to Lisa. Lisa makes honest mistakes, and Stevie is awful about it. Then Lisa saves her life, and they all became friends. You really shouldn't have to save someone's life in order for them to treat you decently.

I'm not sure what I have against Lisa. She's just a bit annoying sometimes.

And maybe I don't like that she accepted a friendship with Stevie.

46. Looked at article that lists which Australian MP's support gay marriage.

There are 35 politicians from Labor that have been confirmed as yeses, and six from the Coalition.

Then there's a thing where you can plug in a post code and see what the local MP there feels about gay marriage.

47. Decided to try Jervis Bay, since I've run into two blogs about that.

I think Jervis Bay is part of the ACT?

48. Consulted Lord Wiki, and I still don't know if Jervis Bay is part of the ACT. Nor do I know it's postcode.

49. Learned that Jervis Bay is it's own territory.

50. Plugged in the Jervis Bay post code provided by Lord Wiki, and the article said it's not a known postcode. I'll try something else.

How about Rose Bay?

51. Plugged in Rose Bay's postcode, and am being that this too is not a known postcode.  I think there's a bug in the system.

52. Felt like a bit of an imposter, because I participated in a fringe fiction message thread on Goodreads. Well, it's kind of not right since I'm not really interested in the whole being-an-author thing anymore. Nor do I have much interest in reading fringe fiction. But there was a fun conversation about the authors and their lives outside the Internet. There's a woman from Brisbane who says she likes TV.  I'm wondering if she watches any Australian shows. Then there's also a woman who loves tarantulas, and another who loves plants.  I love when people are passionate about things.

53. Thought more about Geraldine Brooks books and decided they're more literary than mainstream. But I think her books are an example of literary books that have become fairly popular.