Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Sun-shiney Day...

And after Alice, we have...

Here's the Paul Kelly tune I mentioned, which I'm sure I'll be listening to A LOT over the coming days:

The trailer for the movie I mentioned is below:

I usually ask questions about the book, but this time, I ask about the subject.

Ned Kelly
: hero or criminal?

Catch you real soon,

x Noni

Alice's Adventures In Wonderland - The Wrap Up

Wow, that took a lot longer than it should have.

So, I’ve finally finished Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’. Well, to be exact, I’ve finished it twice.

Due to assignments, getting a new job, moving to Canberra, finding somewhere to live etc, I really didn’t have much time for reading, not even a tiny book of only 130 or so pages. So, Alice got took a little longer than she should have to get herself back out of the rabbit hole.

I think she might be stuck.

I finished the book yesterday, on the way to work, so by the time lunch rolled around, I didn’t have anything to occupy my brain. So I read it again. I got through half of it by 2pm yesterday, and finished the rest of it at lunchtime today, along the lines of the original expected time I thought I was going to take to read it. So, I guess I know it doubly well now!

The first thing you have to know when reading this is that there will be giant holes where you think certain character plotlines should be. Tweedle Dum & Tweedle Dee are nowhere to be seen; the talking flowers don’t get a mention, and while the Cheshire Cat does appear a number of times in the book, it’s not nearly as regular as you might think. There is, however, a baby that turns into a pig, which always wins points in my opinion. (It’s like some kind of bizarre infant Animorph!)

MISSING: one irritating set of twins.

It was a bit of light-hearted fun though, and a good quick read, perfect for that little bit of time between the first and second half of work. I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a quick read that doesn’t require too much brain power (trust me, it’s a thousand times better, and more fun, than any women’s magazine. Doctors should keep a copy in their offices for bored patients), and definitely as a bedtime story if you have little chidlins looking for some night-time giggles.

While I think you get away with just borrowing any of the other Popular Penguins I’ve read so far, this is one you really have to own. It’s just perfect for a rainy day: there’s no long term commitment, it’s light-hearted and it’s the perfect opportunity to remember what it’s like to be a child.

And that’s a feeling that too many of us choose to forget.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Five Alive!

Okay, I'm getting sick of the number puns. And let's be honest, this isn't a Janet Evanovich novel. I think we'll leave it at that, shall we?

So yes, the next book to be read is Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures In Wonderland. Have you read it? Did you read it as a kid, or an adult? Do you prefer the abridged film versions? Which is your favourite? (Mine is the one with Whoopi Goldberg as the Cheshire Cat!)

Isn't she just marvellous?

Let me know! I'll be back before you know it.

- Noni Doll

Saturday, May 14, 2011

And The Ass Saw The Angel - The Wrap Up

If you know anything about Nick Cave, chances are it's that almost none of his work is made of sparkle, smiles and sunshine. And The Ass Saw The Angel is no exception to that perception.

I mean, look at that moustache. This is a not a man to meddle with!

This is one dark tale, if ever there was one. In the opening pages, you discover that the lead character is dying a slow, suffocating death in a swamp somewhere, watched by a flock of crows. The valley where he lives is an isolated, volatile environment, fuelled by religious extremism (of the Christian, Bible Belt variety). His mother is a drunk, and his father is an inbred hillbilly who takes pleasure from trapping and torturing animals. Euchrid, the protagonist (which is a term I'm reluctant to use, for reasons I'll explain later), is a mute, whose twin brother died not long after birth, an event he remembers vividly.

This was never going to be a 'happily ever after' kind of story. In fact, this book couldn't be less of a fairy tale if it tried.

There are plenty of strange things about the writing style that immediately made me scratch my head/irritated me/intrigued me/made me VERY uncomfortable: the switching back and forth from first person to omniscient narration, the regular misspelled words used to demonstrate Euchrid's strong Southern accent, the regular twisting of religious allusion, and even a little bit of fourth wall breaking, which seemed to come out of nowhere! Initially, I thought, "Wow, this would make a great film! So much description, with so much visual potential!" But as I got deeper into the text, I quickly discovered that with the way this book has been written, such an idea would be an impossibility.

While the techniques Cave uses are a little strange, they do their job perfectly. Each and every one of these tricks and styles left me feeling edgy and irritable, matching the disturbing nature of the story perfectly. Full of violence, intrigue and suspicion, this is not a tale for the faint hearted, mostly because it's so bloody believable.

All the characters are so incredibly flawed, you don't know whether or not to empathise with them. Even Euchrid, beaten and bruised in so many ways, turns out to be quite repulsive and insane, leaving you questioning whether this story was meant to have a hero or not. It's like Cave wants you to feel the ostracisation Euchrid felt by not allowing the reader to make any solid connection with anyone in the book. Even Beth is treated as a distant figure, never really making anything of herself apart from the pure, dainty child the town wants her to be.

To say I enjoyed this book wouldn't be entirely correct. It unsettled me immensely, all the way through, but the quality of the story (no matter how horrifying) was easy to see. I can't help drawing a comparison to how I felt about Black Swan - it's a great piece of art, but I don't think I would want to go through it again. This book, like the aforementioned film, is a piece that I admire, but I did not like. It's an interesting line to draw, but one that I stand by.

Natalie Portman. Great movie. Creepy as hell.
(I would have liked to have used another word there, but I'm trying to keep this professional!)

I highly recommend this one. I was initially curious as to why it was listed on the Popular Penguins list. Now I can see why. And The Ass Saw The Angel is a fantastic reflection on the danger of extreme religion, both within the establishment and outside of it, on people and places, innocent or not. It is certainly a book for our times.

Have you read Nick Cave's And The Ass Saw The Angel? Did it disturb you as much as it did with me? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments.

x Noni

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

BIG NEWS - 26 New Popular Penguins!

Today, Penguin Books has announced on their Popular Penguins Facebook page, that there will be 26 new titles added to the Popular Penguin list.

On one hand, I'm so excited! There's lots of great new classic titles, and I've not read a single one before!

On the other hand, I already have 170 to get through, I don't really need to add to my reading list! (Yes, that number has gotten smaller. I finished 'And The Ass Saw The Angel' last night. Review coming soon!)

The new titles will be released in September, so I'd better get cracking and knock a few more over before then!

For those of you curious, the 26 new titles will be:

Barry Hines, A Kestrel for a Knave
E.M. Forster, A Passage to India
Anais Nin, A Spy In The House Of Love
James Baldwin, Another Country
Bryce Courtenay, April Fool’s Day
Roald Dahl, Boy
John Cheever, Falconer
Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness
Robert Graves, I, Claudius
Jorge Luis Borges, Labyrinths
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-four
Virginia Woolf, Orlando
Isak Dinesen, Out of Africa
E.L. Doctorow, Ragtime
Ali Smith, The Accidental
Zadie Smith, The Autograph Man
John Wyndham, The Day of the Triffids
Pat Barker, The Eye in the Door
Norman Mailer, The Fight
Paul Theroux, The Great Railway Bazaar
Raymond Chandler, The High Window
John Steinbeck, The Pearl
Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince
H.G. Wells, The Time Machine
Evelyn Waugh, Vile Bodies

It looks like a lot, because it is!

My, my, my. What HAVE I gotten myself into?

If you've read any of the new titles, which should I be getting most excited about? Which do you think I'm going to loathe? Are there any books you think should have been added which are still missing out on the Popular Penguin treatment?

Yours in reading,

Noni Doll

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


I was looking at the details for Clare Bowditch's Winter Secrets gig at the Factory Theatre in Marrickville, and LOOK WHAT I FOUND!

There's still a few coming up - if you're in Sydney, it might be worth a look!

Okay, I think this blog has officially turned into a game of Popular Penguin Spotto. *sigh*

x ND

Four Your Viewing Pleasure...

And the next book on the list shall be...

Those on Twitter and Facebook - this probably isn't a surprise. Sorry about that. I hope the train shenanigans gave you lolz though!

Have you read any of Nick Cave's work? How do you feel musicians go as novelists? Are you reading along?


I've got myself a new job... in Canberra! Moving on up in the world! I'm so excited! You may have noted part of the reason for this blog being that I was in a very unhappy space... Well, as you can imagine, this has been a huge boost to my mood and overall feeling about life!

There may be some further details on my other blog soon!

Thanks for being awesome folks!

- Noni