As a kid growing up in Perth, W.A., in the 1960s and ’70s, I didn’t learn about the Vietnam War from classroom history lessons. Vietnam and the broader Indochina War were on our radio and TV news every morning and evening, and in the front page headlines of our daily newspapers (though unlike some of my precocious school friends, I can’t claim to have read beyond the headlines). Continue ReadingThe Vietnam War – Boy from Perth’s Perspective
To help overcome writer’s block and make a start on writing the first sentences of A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway is said to have reminded himself: “Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” Continue ReadingWriting First Sentences
In May of 1992, the local literary news in Australia was all about Tim Winton and his novel, Cloudstreet. I thought it an omen. Winton was thirty-one-years old and I was thirty. He’d grown up in Western Australia and so had I. He’d just won his second Miles Franklin Award and I was about to have a second crack at being a writer! Continue ReadingCloudstreet by Tim Winton – Omen or Inspiration?
One day in 2001, I saw Amy the yellow lab in Queens Park with her owner, “The bloke with a beard”. He told me that ‘John had died’ and ‘Amy was missing him’. It took a few moments to realise he was talking about one of my fellow dog walkers, “The old bloke who walked Amy the lab for his neighbour”. Continue ReadingQueens Park Dog Walkers
I loved pubs when I lived in England in 1980s & ’90s! Unlike Australian pubs of the day (which thankfully have improved since then!), the English pubs I frequented were social meeting places, for men & women, not just somewhere for blokes to get plastered & start fights (though those pubs did exist!). Continue ReadingEnglish Pubs and Last Orders
In a loft cupboard at home is a cardboard box containing all the daily diaries and travel journals I’ve kept since I set off backpacking from Australia in 1987. The travel journals are typically student exercise books, with each day’s sights and highlights recorded over two or more pages. By their nature, daily diaries of work and everyday life are less exciting than travel journals and it took me many years to settle on a format which gave me room to jot down the day’s main events without feeling like it was a chore to do so. Continue Reading32 Years of Diaries
As the idiom says, you should never judge a book by its cover (though this book’s cover with the dog would catch my eye in a bookshop). But I’ve found the first sentence to be a fair judge of whether or not I’ll enjoy a novel: “I could smell him – or rather the booze on his breath – before he even opened the door, but my sense of smell is pretty good, probably better than yours.” Continue ReadingDog On It by Spencer Quinn
A friend shared a Facebook post by Architectural Digest inviting the reader to “Step Inside the World’s Coolest Library”. The futuristically designed library in Tianjin, China, aptly nicknamed The Eye, is cool, lined from floor to cathedral high ceilings with bookshelves that follow the curved contours of the building and, most importantly for the avid reader, are stocked full of books. Continue ReadingMy Favourite Libraries