Thursday, July 26, 2007


I want to go there and I want to eat rock lobsters in Perth and keep my eye out for Tim Winton who should be easy to spot because he has a really long ponytail and looks literate. I know I'm probably like most Americans who are, how do we say politely, geographically illiterate, but Australia is all about Sydney and kangaroos and a town like Alice to me. I mean I've heard of Perth, but just thought it must be in the Sydney neighborhood where all Australians are bunched up eating shrimp and getting stung by jelly fish on beautifully dangerous beaches. I just finished Dirt Music and was motivated enough to learn more so I could picture the territory the characters were covering and it turns out there is a whole western edge, with people, of Austalia, who knew? So it should be easy to find Mr. Winton, very little stalking involved, right?

Everytime I read a Winton book, it makes me want to book flights so I can go listen to real Australians speak English instead of the fake Australian accent I have playing in my head as I read his dialogue (while the Outback Steakhouse jingle runs persistently throughout). But regardless what this guy writes about, I feel like I'm there and when I'm done, I want to jump on the plane and really be there to see it like he sees it. Even though I read The Riders probably 10 years ago, I still can't get it out of my mind and on my book judging scale, that's some fine writing.

Althought I love to read, I still go through books like I was in fifth grade plowing through the elementary school library: for transport, not for more information or new skills or god forbid, intellectual challenge. So I love a good rich and dense text that is wonderfully chewy, but I'm a wee bit shallow and under-educated and I'm always aware of the fact that if any message or symbol is layered under the story, I'm probably missing it just like those magic focus prints that were all the rage 15 years ago in which I NEVER saw the damn magic picture even though I stared into the distance until my contacts dried up and popped off my eyeballs. I was listening to the Diane Rehm show (even though her voice, oh her voice, how it makes me cringe and I know she can't help it, but oh oh) on the way to work last week and her book reviewers were working over Like Water for Elephants, a book that I thoroughly enjoyed reading. One of her panelists said that maybe the book's popularity could be explained because it was so one-dimensional: just a good story that was all there right on the surface and there wasn't anything else to dig for, no deeper meaning. I thought, oh, hmm, really? hadn't occurred to me, I just thought I had missed the deeper meaning just like always.

So I dream about when I'm old(er) and gray(er) and looking even more like a shar pei because they let the senior set audit classes for free or a small fee at my dear old alma mater and I can get the education I missed the first time around. I'm going to sit on the front row of every art and literature appreciation course I can find and give all those kids the benefit of my widsom and experience (e.g. bore them senseless with my endless questions that are really just statements of the obvious). A gal's got to have plans for retirement. My plans are to finally understand all the books I read like I was eating Triscuits for my whole adult life.

But if you need a good read right now, dial up a Tim Winton novel, you will not be disappointed. Then write to let me know was I missed.

No comments: