The other night I was talking to Callum about this blog, about wanting to close it, about not really having anything to write about anymore. It occurred to me then that I’ve been updating this semi-regularly for well over three years now, which is shocking not just because I don’t tend to stick with things for that long, but also because it made me realize that I’ve been living in Australia for that same amount of time, and that’s somehow hard to believe.
While I love updating this blog (after all there is nothing I like more than telling everyone what my opinions are) and enjoy writing in general, it took me these three years to realize that the main reason I’ve been writing here is not to tell friends and family all over the world what I’ve been doing, and what Australian life is like. (I suddenly realize that none of my friends and family probably know just how similar my life in Melbourne is to my life in the Netherlands and the UK. I have only been to the beach twice in the three years that I’ve lived here, I have yet to hold a koala, and I’m still waiting for Drazic to sit down for a coffee at my favorite cafe.) Instead, it has been a way for me to cope with some enormous changes in my life and to express my fear, glee and curiosity about all the new places, situations and people I encountered. At the time that these changes were happening (my mom passing away, Callum and I moving halfway across the world) I was very casual about it all, though my 20/20 hindsight has made it clear that it has been extremely tough at times. Though I still talk about these things nonchalantly now, secretly I think I’m a bad-ass motherfucker for doing what I’ve done.
Writing for this blog has also helped bring some fulfillment to my life when my job just can’t provide that for me. I’m still stuck in an administrative job, but at least the way I spend my free time makes me feel satisfied and, god help me, smarter. Let’s not discuss how re-watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer for the umpteenth time is supposed to help with that, though.
All of this is really to say that I’ve settled in now, there’s not a whole lot left for me to cope with, and consequentially I’ve found myself without anything to write about here. I’m living in an awesome neighborhood here in Melbourne with Callum and my life is blissfully devoid of creepy crawlies, which is all a girl could wish for. Of course there will always be things and people in Australia that make my jaw drop (seriously people, put on some shoes when you’re going to the supermarket), but it feels like home now.
I will probably still update this once in a while, and I will definitely keep the abookaweek pace going (and update the page), but there won’t be any regular posts here for the foreseeable future. I guess I’ve finally found better things to do than bore you guys with my stories about life down under!
The Complete Fairy Tales, by the brothers Grimm, translated by Jack Zipes
Story: Jack Zipes translated 279 (read ’em and weep!) of the fairy tales collected by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm.
Opinion: As with Edith Hamilton’s Mythology, I picked up this book because I wanted to revisit the fairy tales I listened to and read when I was a kid. However it only took me 40 stories or so to realize I was in way over my head. Fairy tales are great stories, there’s a good reason they are part of the foundation of modern Western storytelling, but oh my fucking god are they ever repetitive.
With a few exceptions, these stories are a mish-mash of a few elements, i.e. ‘evil stepmother’ and ‘beautiful princess’, or ‘getting lost in the forest’ and ‘parents who cannot recognize their own children’. If you are dumb or beautiful, you are good. If you are cunning or ugly you are bad. If you are a woman, you are a witch, princess, farmer’s wife, or miller’s daughter. If you are a man, you are a king, farmer, soldier, tailor, huntsman or just poor. To mix things up there were some ridiculous tales about a reed, a coal, and a bean, but those were hardly entertaining.
Of course now that I’ve finished it (I started reading it in March) everyone is talking about this new collection of fairy tales written by Phillip Pullman, which is supposed to be very good. Unfortunately I think I’m going to have to give myself a year or two to recover from this beast.
Mythology, translated and compiled by Edith Hamilton
Story: A collection of all the major and most of the minor myths of ancient Greece and Rome, as well as some stories from Norse mythology.
Opinion: As much as it pains me to admit this, it has been 8 long years since I finished high school, and time has been busy rooting around my brain trying to eradicate as much as possible of what I learned. Latin was always one of my favorite subjects because of the stories we got to read, so I thought it would be nice to have a refresher of what all the gods represented, and the mischief they got up to.
This book is a great way to remind you of those countless stories, as everything is explained very clearly and concisely. However, since it was translated directly from Greek and Latin texts which had little eye for detail, the stories are extremely bare bones. I’m sure Hamilton did a great job translating, but I wish she’d added her own flourish, just to make it a bit more readable.
Callum and I have taken lots of faraway and expensive trips this past year and a half, and I’m excited about seeing more of what Australia has to offer. So far I’ve seen four of its capital cities, and I’m excited about visiting Adelaide this weekend. It’ll be three days of strolling around, drinking wine and taking in the sights.
Did I mention that we’ll be feeding hippos ON MY BIRTHDAY?
American Supernatural Tales, edited by S.T. Joshi
Story: This book brings together 26 stories, written by American authors, which deal with the supernatural. They’re in chronological order, and preceded by a hugely useful introduction by S.T. Joshi.
Opinion: It’s impossible to give an opinion on all 26 stories, but I have nothing but praise for this book. There were one or two stories that I skipped, and another one or two which, when I finished them, only elicited the response “is this it?” (Stephen King, I’m looking at you!), but all the other stories were superb. The ’50s especially were a good time for supernatural stories, I loved Shirley Jackson’s A Visit, Richard Matheson’s Long Distance Call, and in particular Charles Beaumont’s The Vanishing American.
Not all of the stories felt particularly scary, but Joshi’s introduction really helps to put them into historial context, which makes it easier to understand what the stories were reacting to. A fantastic collection.