Friday, April 22, 2011

2011 summer reading continues well into autumn

With Autumn defiantly under way, summer reading should have been finished but I was on a roll and the more I read the more I wanted to read... 

As Catcher in the Rye is on many of the “must read” lists and I thought that it was time that I checked it out. It is a story of a boy that gets thrown out of high school and spends what seems like forever partying in NYC. I was slightly disappointed as I obviously didn’t get why people found this book so compelling because, as a piece of literature, it is no big deal. But understanding that art never operates outside the context/culture that it was created in, it is easier to see the impact of this book and to see how its perspective was a new one. The character’s spent four days plus ranting on how bad his life was and fake the people around him were and I guess that at the time, things like that weren’t really talked about. It is hard to see him as the first anti-hero and rebel.

The Nine Parts of Desire by Geraldine Brookes discusses Women in Islam and provides a close up of the lives of many women in the middle-east and as with other similar books I was left not knowing what to think about one of the world’s largest religions. I shared Brookes’ struggle with why well educated women give it all up for marriage Saudi style and why a whole generation of females could regress back to fundamentalist Islam after the progress of many of the trailblazers of the past but maybe I am missing the point!

“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way” is the opening line to Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy and indicates that it is about unhappy families. It is essentially about the scandalous family lives of the Russian elite and how these scandals impact on the families around them.

Prior to reading the book, I had this expectation that this book would only about superficial aspects part of the lives of the characters but I was quite surprised by how human it was. For example, Levin’s and Kitty’s reaction to their brother’s death brought a tear to my eye and their reactions during their wedding ceremony were believable. The end I found a little disappointing and too existential but I am glad I did make it that far.

Its length does make it a big read but it is worth it.

Tolstoy seems to cram quite a lot in to 800+ pages and covered application of Christian values to every-day lives, the role of women in society and societal expectations. It also covers agronomy and early forms of sustainability, industrial relations on farms as well as suicide.

George Orwell’s Animal Farm was the final book of the summer. Having loved 1984 I loved Animal Farm’s allegorical style and Orwell’s depiction of the pre war Stalinist era. I thought it was an accurate depiction of human nature and how political theories begin as positive change but soon go downhill as greed and self interest increases.


I loved the various characters in the book; Millie could easily be a Barbie on four legs and Squealer could be a spin doctor. I laughed when pigs started walking on two legs and their mantra "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others” is so true.

It is easy to see why this cleverly written book is considered such a classic as it says so much about humans and how we organise our selves.

The Plantation by Di Morrissey is a tale of family secrets and dramas. It is a story that covers several generations and it was set in Malaysia (or Malaya as it was known in the past) as well as Australia. It is a very easy read while keeping readers guessing of why things happened the way they did right up to the very end. It did make me want to go back and explore more of Malaysia. Note to self: book trip to Malaysia ASAP!!!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Friday on my mind… where to go on a Friday night in Perth?

If you are anything like me all I want to do when Friday finally comes around to kick back and hang out with friends. Deciding where to go and what to see can be of a little challenge, so these are a few suggestions.

The Greenhouse bar on St George’s Tce provides a good place to meet fiends if you want something super central (with its agricultural exterior makes it hard to miss) and informal.

It's commitment to sustainability gives the place an unusual vibe (make sure you visit the toilet) and while they have a good selection of wines, beers and food, it is a bit expensive.

Across the road on the corner of 111 St George’s Tce is one of Perth’s newbies that seems to be always full but not so good if you don’t want to compete with the suits or have a conversation.

Greenhouse on Urbanspoon

If you haven't visited Wolfe Lane you must do so NOW......It is so cool that it is worth the walk. It is hard to find but it is awsome. Think Melbourne, New York, we're all good!!

Wolf Lane on Urbanspoon

After having a quick beer, it is time to move away from the river and towards Northbridge for dinner and a few more.

Moving right along past bogansville-by-another-name and over the train line, slow down when you get to the State Theatre Centre.

You can either stop off at Penang or move on elsewhere depending on your tolerance to uber cheap Malaysian food made in Australia….. it is just doesn’t taste the same.

The Bird is a relatively new music venue which seems to have been transported right out of New York or San Fran with its small bar plus a funky courtyard out the back. They really do have variety of acts because some are better than others but I guess that’s what makes it so cool. It is open from 12 noon till 2 am.

The Bird on Urbanspoon

Moving right along is Ezra Pound is another small bar (minus the music) that seems to have been a gift from our cooler eastern states cousins. Has a good selection of beers and great d├ęcor. You can also sit outside at tables and admire the graffiti art.

Ezra Pound on Urbanspoon

If you are feeling a little hungry, you can, at this point, enjoy a burger at Jus Burgers which a burger fast food chain that is cooler than maccers. Enjoy the funk!!

Crossing James St you are met with typical Northbridge fair with the Brass Monkey, Universal (which does music and $10 cocktails) and the Grapevine. They are average and often quite full and if mediocrity bothers you, you might like to go elsewhere.

If Jazz is your thing, grab a couple of mates and head down to the Ellington Jazz Club. The Ellington is a performance space (plus a great bar on the 2nd floor) that has a smoky “New York, New York” vibe, so grab a drink, kick back and enjoy the show.
Hope you had a good night.

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