THE HOOPLA LITERARY SOCIETY
Reading is everything. Reading makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something, learned something, become a better person. Reading makes me smarter. Reading gives me something to talk about later on. Reading is the unbelievably healthy way my attention deficit disorder medicates itself. Reading is escape, and the opposite of escape; it’s a way to make contact with reality after a day of making things up, and it’s a way of making contact with someone else’s imagination after a day that’s all too real. Reading is grist. Reading is bliss.” Nora Ephron, I Feel Bad About My Neck And Other Thoughts on Being A Woman
Nora Ephron photograph via Vanity Fair.
Filmmaker, novelist, journalist, playwright, essayist, blogger and a considerable talent sadly missed.
My introduction to Nora Ephron was her loosely autobiographical novel Heartburn, followed by the movie that introduced a whole new generation of women to Jack Nicholson. But for many, she will be remembered for that wonderful scene between Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal in When Harry Met Sally – “I’ll have what’s she’s having.”
However, the scene indelibly etched in my memory is of Meryl Streep being scrubbed red raw after exposure to radiation the 1983 movie, Silkwood. In between writing movies, Ephron wrote wry, dot-on-the-spot commentary about being a woman, including this gem “…the amount of maintenance involving hair is genuinely overwhelming. Sometimes I think that not having to worry about your hair anymore is the secret upside of death.” Hard to know if she still thinks so.
This week has seen me dip back into crime fiction and drag up all the questions about why I don’t read crime anymore as well as introduced me to a new writer (or at least new to me) Charity Norman.
Lastly, did you notice the beautiful cake in this photo? It was made to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Victoria’s Mill Park Library’. Opened in 2002 at a cost of $8 million, the library was the first in Victoria to be designed on the concept of a hybrid digital/print library. I forgot to ask what flavour the cake was but I think I can honestly say – these books look good enough to eat!
Second Chances, Charity Norman
“‘Your predecessor claimed to love it here,’ he said seriously. ‘She was English too. Came out with a husband and a baby. Guess how long she lasted?’
‘I don’t think I’m going to like the answer to that question.’
‘You’re not.’ He leaned hefty forearms on the door. ‘Six weeks, from landing to take off.’
‘Turned their container around in Napier port. It never got off the dock.’
‘Blimey. What did you do to her, Keith?’
He rubbed his chins. ‘They were homesick. It was too big a change, and it wasn’t necessary. They weren’t running from anything, or to anything.’
‘Neither are we,’ I said as he shut my door.”
When Martha and Kit McNamara decide to pick up the family and move to the other end of the world, they think they are solving their problems. After all, things have been tough since Kit’s advertising business was swallowed by the recession and Martha’s salary as an Occupational Therapist is not enough to cover the mortgage let alone the private school fees. Somehow it just seems easier to pick up the twin boys and sixteen year old Sacha and start a new life in Hawkes Bay New Zealand. And whilst they never presumed the move would be trouble free, none of them predicts how quickly paradise can turn into hell.
One of the twins, Finn falls from an upstairs balcony whilst sleepwalking. His spleen is ruptured, arm broken and pieces of his skull have to be removed from his brain. But it’s once the doctors have stabilised him that questions start to be asked and Martha is in no position to tell them the truth.
It’s inevitable to draw some parallels between Charity Norman’s real life and Martha’s story. After all, Norman worked as a barrister specialising in crime and family law in northeast England before, like Martha, she chucked it all in to move to New Zealand with her family. The laws loss is writing’s gain. Norman spins a cracker yarn, balancing family loyalty against truth, weighing up what love means in a real, tangible way and what it takes to find some kind of forgiveness when you get it all wrong.
Second Chances is emotionally astute and Norman writes with razor sharp perception and deep compassion. This book was worth every hour I spent reading it. BUY THE BOOK
Byron Bay Writers’ Festival
Time to book tickets for the Byron Bay Writers’ Festival folks. Running from August 3 to 5, the program promises an action-packed weekend for writers and readers alike – as if anyone needs an excuse to escape the winter blues and head to Byron Bay!
Share matters literary with the likes of the ABC’s Fran Kelly and Sally Neighbour or foodie and author Charlotte Wood. Perhaps you’d prefer a workshop on writing crime with Shane Maloney, comedy for kids with Andy Griffiths or surf writing with Tim Bailey?
Amongst the book launches and stand-up comedy, there is a veritable anthology of authors to see. You can catch keynote speaker, former Federal leader of the greens Bob Brown, or catch up on a chat with the likes of Michael Kirby or round-the-world-sailor Jessica Watson. The program is 32 pages of reading and writing treasures and many events are free. Find your weekend fill here.
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