Summer Goals

So it has been a while since I posted anything on this blog, but this summer I intend to change that. I am hoping to use this blog as a space for reflection upon my thoughts and readings – and I have quite an ambitious reading list for the Summer. It’ll also be a good stepping stone to writing reviews (for money!!!) and I will put up a first draft before sending it off to be rejected just like my poetry.
Anyway, last week I borrowed a fat stack of books to be read over my holiday period, unfortunately that stack join my already large stack of books both from the university library and my local. Add to that the large collection of unread books spread about my room and beyond and I am faced with quite a dilemma in deciding what to read and what to abandon to the fate of aging in the sunshine without being loved. One thing in the selection criteria is certain and that is brevity, shorter books, novellas and succinct analyses will be chosen over their tediously long cousins – while TOlstoy may make an appearance it’ll be for ‘The Death of Ivan Ilyich’ rather than ‘War and Peace’.

So while there is no definite list just yet, there are a couple books that are on the high up and I’ll run through them.

First up is Norman Mailer’s ‘Armies of the Night’, a brilliant account of the authors experience protesting the war in Vietnam. Norman Mailer is a somewhat less famous author associated with the ‘new journalism’ movement along with Tom Wolfe and Hunter S Thompson. Thompson’s creation of ‘Gonzo’ journalism has certainly stood the test of time and reference to it can be found amongst filmmakers, journalists and any hipster who like to dream about the fast paced, drug induced world he has blurred with the tools of fiction. Anyway, more about that later – the main reason he is on the list is because I am currently reading him and hope to be done by the end of the week, so expect a post about that soon.

Another book sitting high up there is Daniel Dennett’s  ‘Consciousness Explained’. I wish I could speak more about the book or author but as he has not yet been read I cannot. I’m reading this on the recommendation of my old mate Peter Slezak, a professor of philosophy at USYD and fellow activist on Palestinian rights. It also seems like it will be great for gaining an understanding of myself and my ability to write in a stream-of-consciousness style with greater authority.

There is also Rohinton Mistry’s ‘Swimming Lessons: Tales from Firozsha Baag’, a collection of short stories that revolves around a particular building in Mumbai rather than any central characters. I guess this is not dissimilar from Joyce’s ‘Dubliners’ but who am I to say. It is also a great example of postcolonial literature, having been written by an author who is neither white nor western educated. I feel this is important as typical lists of great writers and must-read books often focus upon a literary canon that is almost exclusively white and male – and there is no way that the talent lies simply with them. So I feel it is important to include such writers whenever looking to fill my mind with the works of the who’s who in the literary world.

This brings me to by next author – Margaret Attwood, I don’t think she needs any introduction and if she does use google. Unfortunately, I cannot remember which book I picked up but let’s just say that is is reasonably short.

I could keep going but listing the would be read books for summer may itself be too ambitious so I will just set down the ground rules:

  1. Books under 200 pages should be read in a single week.
  2. Books over 200 in two weeks.
  3. Academic books to be read in two weeks with some exceptions to be made.
  4. Every third book I will aim to read something outside of comfort zone. For example, genre fiction, commercial and pulpy crap that I would otherwise turn my nose up at, philosophy and maybe even an art book.

I also intend to write a poem every day, a short story a week and a blog post every week. Maybe that is too ambitious as I have already failed to meet the poetry rule since deciding upon it. But we shall see, at least it’s a rule that I can feel bad about breaking (kind of like my persistently lapsing vegetarianism!) anyway, it is there in (computer screen) print for all to see, so maybe that will be a motivating factor in getting it done.
Hopefully I can share it all with you soon.