Join James Cowan and me for the launch of Navigatio on the 30th of October at Avid Reader (6pm-8pm). More here
Navigatio tells the story of Saint Brendan of Clonfert, a sixth century monk and adventurer, and his legendary quest for the Isle of the Blessed via a gauntlet of monsters, devils, angels, prophets and beautiful maidens. Brendan's battles with the sea and the cosmos bear out what William Faulkner once called ‘the human heart in conflict with itself’. This haunting parable of darkness and light, of temptation and belief, of voice and silence, is told with the utmost economy of words, making it a small masterpiece of compassionate perception.
'This is the spirit under sail. A beautiful mediation on losing one way and finding another. It is sensual and soulful. A rich and mellow book, one to take time over and savour in its many moods.' Michael McGirr, author of Things You Get For Free and Bypass
'Part myth, part confabulation, Holland's spare prose takes us on a voyage to the outer isles of consciousness.He has made the simple story of St Brendan and his voyage in search of the Island of the Blessed into a recapitulation of the verities that lie at the heart of the transcendent nature of story. He should be commendedfor taking us there, and for his courage. We are enchanted.'
James Cowanauthor of 'A Mapmaker's Dream' and 'Fleeing Herod.'
Who are you again?
Patrick Holland. I'm an Australian writer, much influenced by you.
Find your own voice, God dammit. Even the people who presume to criticise me ape me these days. Have you seen where Chatwin does it? Has a shot at my style while using it?
I like Chatwin.
Sure, but he might respect his teachers.
They say he carried a copy of your first short story collection in his rucksack wherever he went. In fact, it's that I wanted to talk to you about: stories. I'm doing a short story writing class shortly, and I was hoping you could give the students, who'll read this, a few pointers.
Writing's easy. Just sit at a typewriter and bleed.
Yes, but surely there's more to it than that. It's not all about content, but form too. You care about form and style as much as anyone of your time.
Are we going to open that bottle of Pernod?
Sorry, I forgot. Allow me.
Right. What was your question?
Join me and the wonderful Josephine Rowe this week over at RAF
... Richard Dawkins was driving his big red bus around Norfolk. He wasn’t actually driving. He was in it though. The bus was being driven by Richard Dawkins’s friend and ethicist Peter Singer, who was in England on holiday when the proper bus driver had a spell of gout. The bus was that very bright kind of red that people who paint things call vermillion, so everyone noticed it pass. On the side of the bus was a great big banner that said,
When the bus drove through the towns the townspeople smiled and waved.
‘Look,’ said Mrs Aubrey Smith to her daughter. ‘There goes Richard Dawkins in his big red bus. Wave to him, Jenny!’
And she did.
And Richard Dawkins waved back.
When Richard Dawkins drove past a dairy farmer standing in a lane outside Holt, the dairy farmer took notice of the banner.
‘Well that settles that,’ said the farmer to himself. ‘I won’t be paying my church tithe anymore!’
When Richard Dawkins drove into Norwich there was a lot more traffic than in the countryside. Driving a big bus in a city, even a small city, perhaps especially a small city, with narrow roads and tight corners, is not easy if you’ve accustomed yourself to highways and empty country lanes. But Richard Dawkins didn’t let this dampen his spirits. To be fair, as I said earlier, it wasn’t actually him doing the driving (as before it was Peter Singer, and city driving is no easier on ethicists than anyone else, and probably harder on them than proper bus drivers). So he—Richard Dawkins—continued to sit at the window and wave to people standing on the edge of the street just as before.
‘He’s not as nasty as some people say!’ said a little girl holding a balloon.
‘He’s not nasty at all!’ her grandmother replied ...
See RAF VOL 10 ISS 3 for more
Last week the city of Brisbane declared Alain de Botton the ugliest philosopher in the world. I think this is very unfair of the city. Certainly Mr Botton is bald as a nut and wears a permanently pissed-on-port expression, but I can't help but think, given the "middlebrow philosophy champion of the world"'s very brief stay, there are/were subtle and secret parts of Botton that Brisbane didn't get a chance to fully see and appreciate.
LA comedian Matt Dwyer and I talk The Mary Smokes Boys
Click here to listen at Feral Audio
& here for the itunes podcast
New essay on Powell's City of Books Blog
There are seven stories I read at least once a year, for pleasure and in the same very rational spirit that infertile males of certain old (and new) world tribes have eaten rhinoceros horns and tiger penises, hoping that imbibing a thing of a certain shape and power will transfer the shape and power upon the imbiber. One of those stories is Hemingway's "The Snows of Kilimanjaro." Each time he follows that woman through the streets of Paris, dreaming she is his first love, hoping she will not turn around and break the spell, my blood quickens, for I have done that. Another is a story I found by accident called "The Dandelion Clocks" by Juliana Horatia Ewing, who was said to have influenced Kipling and who, like an Edo ink painter, draws character in a stroke. Four of the stories are Kipling's: "The Church That Was at Antioch"; "The Manner of Men"; "The Gate of a Hundred Sorrows," the most beautiful story of terminal drug addiction you will ever read; and a rarely anthologized story about a Lahore prostitute and betrayal of the Empire called "On the City Wall," which is perhaps my favorite of all his stories. The last is Yasunari Kawabata's "Izu no Odoriko," "The Izu Dancer," a masterpiece of the kind of minimalist prose Ernest Hemingway was contemporaneously forging in Paris, each writer unknown to the other ... READ MORE HERE
But not like any of the writers I ever read ... like this instead
This is the greatest film I will ever see ... this changes everything ...
Pensees - spelling and punctuation mistakes and all ... I believe at least three quarters of what I say. ... And the good stuff only stays posted for an hour or two.