2012: And The Winner Is...

on Monday, December 31, 2012
I'd never heard of the author. The cover design was drab. I had sworn off reading Holocaust-related fiction. Why, then, did I pick up Trieste by Dasa Drndic?

In a year that delivered some pretty great books, none were quite as brilliant as this. Drawing on photographs, biographical snippets, documentary evidence and a multiplicity of innovative narrative techniques, Trieste tells the harrowing story of Haya Tedeschi, an Italian woman caught up in the Nazi machinery as it overruns her country and crushes all that she hold dear. At the start we meet Haya in her twilight years, waiting anxiously for the arrival of a son she long thought dead. It is to be a bittersweet reunion; he is, after all, her son, product of the Lebensborn program, but his very existence reminds her of the horrors of her youth and the man who, despite moments of kindness and decency, was an outright monster. The novel then unfurls into a sprawling account of Haya's desperate struggle to save herself against overwhelming odds.

The emotional and moral complexity of Haya's story demands a great deal from the reader but the effort is well rewarded. Daring in its ambition, ingenious in its structure, Trieste breathes new life into a fairly stagnant genre. One of the Israeli greats (I think it was David Grossman or Amos Oz) once said that the great Holocaust novel has yet to be written. He might still be right, but this is about as close as it we've seen. To my mind, Trieste will now be the benchmark against which all such novels will be judged.

So there you have it. Trieste by Dasa Drndic. A truly worthy winner of Bait For Bookworm's Book of The Year.

2012: A Brief Statistical Interlude

And now for something completely different...

Before announcing my favourite book of 2012 later this afternoon, I thought I'd take a quick statistical look at my year of reading. Needless to say I know nothing about maths or statistics so the more numerically inclined among you will probably laugh at my ineptitude. Oh well, here goes nothing (being neither a number nor a constant so far as I am aware):

Number of Pages Read: 29,087

Longest Book: Wolf Hall - Hilary Mantel (650 pages)

Shortest Book: Blind Man's Bluff - Aidan Higgins (60 pages)

Average Length of Book: 255 pages

Time Spent Reading (Based on Average Reading Speed of 90 pages an hour): 323 hours or 13.5 days which, in the scheme of things, isn't very long.

So there you go maths nerds. My year in review. Now stay tuned for the 2012 winner of The Bookworm's Book of the Year.

2012: The Final Countdown

on Sunday, December 30, 2012
Let me start with a confession. Try as I might, I just couldn't bring myself to read Telegraph Avenue. I say that because I figure you would be expecting to see it somewhere on my list. It isn't. Maybe someday I will read it. Michael Chabon still is one of my favourite writers of all time. And it is about my other great love. Alas...

Other books I ought to have read but didn't (and perhaps would have loved if I actually did) include: Hostage by Elie Wiesel, Accelerated by Bronwen Hruska, Mountains Of The Moon by IJ Kay, Hologram For The King by Dave Eggars, Joseph Anton by Salman Rushdie and The Round House by Louise Erdich. Shame on me, I know.

But enough of the jibber jabber. Here are the first nine of my Top 10 for 2012:

10. The Flame Alphabet - Ben Marcus. Why Ben Marcus? Why? After kicking off with the most exciting, mind-bending and straight up breathtaking opening few chapters of the past two decades you went and ruined it all with an expedition up your own sphincter. But I digress. The Flame Alphabet has the best post-apocalyptic set-up of all time. The language of children as a life-threatening disease? Genius. Parents fleeing their own kids, rejecting the societal norm of protection and nurture to save their own arses? Spectacular. A rip roaring adventure that manages to channel both JG Ballard and Cormac McCarthy, yet told in a perfectly unique voice? I bow at your feet. And, just when you think you've found the best book ever, it all falls apart? Oh why, Ben Marcus. Seriously, why? (But you still make my Top 10)

9. The Sound of Things Falling - Juan Gabriel Vasquez. With this, his third novel, Columbian Vasquez firmly stakes his claim as one of South America's most important writers. Once again he mines the dark edges of his country's history in a tale of a young couple swept up in Escobar's emerging drug cartel. A novel about naivety, sacrifice, betrayal and the violence that sometimes puts paid to even the most innocent of intentions. Moving, yet brutal.

8. Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk - Ben Fountain. I'm not quite as convinced as everyone else that this is Catch-22 of the Iraq War, but it is undoubtedly an exuberant satirical roast of all that gung-ho, celebrity-obsessed, politically-absurd America holds dear. Just the image of a bunch of befuddled Marines being whisked back home and made to parade around the country at football matches and ticker tape parades before being plonked back in the war zone was enough to bring on a smirk. The absurdity of it all would have me splitting my sides if it weren't so damn tragic.

7. A tie. This Is Life - Dan Rhodes and What In God's Name - Simon Rich. I was juggling which of these would go higher on my list before taking the easy way out (and allowing myself to crib an extra book into my top 10) and declaring a tie. Rhodes continues to dish out the quirky charm in this ode to serendipity and the pretentiousness of the art world. Never before has a naked man shitting in front of an audience seemed so funny. Equally enjoyable was Simon Rich's novel about the almost-destruction of mankind. God has lost faith in his creations and decides to wipe out the world (he wants to concentrate on opening an asian fusion restaurant in heaven instead) but two lowly angels make it their mission to prove there is hope for humanity. The only problem - they must make the two most socially awkward people you have ever seen fall in love. It's cheesy and kind of loopy, but the gags work, making What In God's Name the most pleasurable read of the year for me.

6. Hope: A Tragedy - Shalom Auslander. Speaking of funny, this one takes the cake. A completely batshit crazy story of a neurotic city Jew escaping to the country only to find Anne Frank alive, old, cranky and living in his attic. She pisses in the heating ducts, bangs on the ceiling, does her level best to drive him nuts... That is when she isn't desperately trying to write a sequel to her worldwide bestselling first book. You know the one. Auslander skewers so many of contemporary Jewry's holy cows that he might as well open his own Kosher abbatoir. Insanely hilarious!

5. The Fall of The Stone City - Ismail Kadare. I thought he was dead. Or at least I thought his talent had dried up. Whatever, Kadare's latest is among his best (and that's really saying something). When Hitler's army rolls into Albania, the first town it hits is Gjirokaster. The invaders expect the red carpet treatment. Instead they get bullets. The city looks set for destruction but a mysterious meeting between the local doctor and the German commander changes its fate. For years afterwards the locals debate what happened that night. In saving the city did the good doctor betray its people? Told in whispers and spurts of rumour, this amazing novel challenges concepts of loyalty, friendship and national identity.

4. We Are What We Pretend To Be - Kurt Vonnegut. For a bloke who carked it half a decade ago, Vonnegut sure is prolific. Six books in five years, two of them in 2012. Most living writers would be jealous. Just to rub salt into the wound, We Are What We Pretend To Be is the best thing he's done since he died. Consisting of two previously unpublished novellas, one from the very beginning of his career and one from the very end, it just proves that Vonnegut was a bloody genius from go to woe. And don't worry if you're not a fan of his usual whacky hijinks - the first novella owes more to John Steinbeck than Spike Milligan. As for the second... Holy crap that guy was nuts.

3. Melisande! What Are Dreams? - Hillel Halkin. You don't spend a lifetime translating the great Yiddish and Hebrew masters without having some of their brilliance rub off on you. And sure, it might take you seventy three years, but when you do put out that first novel it's probably going to be a killer. This melencholic story of a marriage in decline is one of the most tender meditations on the nature of human relations that I have ever read. Sad yet uplifting, perceptive yet innocent, Halkin's belated debut is one that will linger in your heart as much as your mind.

2. The Yellow Birds - Kevin Powers. I should put it out there that any of my top four books could have been number one, so close was the competition. I toyed with putting Kevin Powers's stunning debut at the very top but for reasons that will become clear tomorrow it was just pipped at the post. The Yellow Birds is the kind of literary revelation that heralds a new messiah. Powers draws on his own life as a poet and active soldier to craft a riveting tale of one man's struggle to come to terms with the death of his friend during service in Iraq. Not a single war cliche pollutes the perfect prose. The emotion is raw, the anger palpable, the depth of humanity staggering. If you are not torn apart by this novel, you have no soul.

Check back tomorrow for my Oh So Surprising Number One.

2012: The "Best of" Bridesmaids

on Saturday, December 29, 2012
Never before have I had such a hard time whittling my list down to ten books. In any other year, a few of these Bridesmaids would have made the Top 10 but, as they used to say in Vaudeville, timing is everything. Didn't help Vaudeville and didn't really help these books either, but you should still check them out.

Building Stories by Chris Ware. It is hard not to be overwhelmed and awestruck by the magnitude of Ware's achievement in this behemoth of a graphic novel. Told over fourteen different pieces (mini-strips, books, broadsheets, pamphlets etc), and all packaged up in a huge board game-sized box, Building Stories is a series of interlinked tales set around a downtrodden Chicago apartment block and its mostly sad inhabitants. In terms of narrative, it is a mobius strip, with no instructions on intended order of reading (I just went from smallest to largest), though I suspect it doesn't really matter. Think Armistead Maupin or George Perec minced together with gravel and a hint of whimsy and you get the idea. Extra props for the brilliant Branford The Bee sequences.

Behind The Beautiful Forevers - Katherine Boo. Forget Slumdog Millionaire, this is the real deal. Boo lived in the Mumbai Slum of Annawadi for three years, coming to truly understand its social mechanics and, more importantly, gaining the trust of its inhabitants. The result is a beautifully rendered portrait of life in a place where desperation and injustice do battle with beauty and hope. Sure, these people's circumstances might be awful, but their stories are universal - ordinary people trying to better their lot, negotiate everyday life and maintain a basic level of human dignity. A magnificent work of narrative non-fiction.

Las Vegas For Vegans - A. S. Patric. A collection of stories so varied in tone, style and inventive flourish that the only thing they have in common is that they have nothing in common. Great literary acrobatics from this Melbourne local who is quickly becoming one of the heavy hitters around town.

The Fifty Year Sword - Mark Z. Danielewski. Get over the gimmick! This is a beautifully produced piece of old-fashioned storytelling disguised as experimental fiction. Short, cool and fun (once you get the hang of how to read it).

Care of Wooden Floors - Will Wiles. A comedy of absurd and increasingly horrifying errors marred only by its lame denouement this was one of the great surprises of 2012. The unnamed narrator arrives in an unnamed European city, charged with looking after his incredibly anal friend's apartment. Instructional notes are left on almost every surface and implement but one stands out above all the others - take care of the wooden floors. It's not hard to guess what happens, but the avalanche of disasters that follow are what really makes this great. Whether read as farce or a novel of displacement (not unlike Ferenc Karinthy's Metropole), it is a resounding success.

A Few Flower Girls: The Devil In Silver by Victor Lavalle, The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman, The Man Who Rained by Ali Shaw, Sorry, Please, Thank You: Stories by Charles Yu.

Where Was The Boom? There Was Supposed To Be An Almighty Boom!

on Friday, December 28, 2012
Never fear, I haven't forgotten. Just trying to cram in two extra books that might make my lists. It's going to be a busy last three days of the year here on Bait For Bookworms, I promise.

2012: Secondary Stars And Other Satellites

on Sunday, December 23, 2012
The real countdown begins on Thursday (when Louie and I have a few days of batching to fill) but before I get stuck into it, and to allow myself those crucial extra four days to read my five remaining books, here, as always, are the Secondary Stars and Other Satellites, my best of everything else for 2012.(Note: This is an edited version with the addition of twos albums in my top "10")


The Devil All The Time - Donald Ray Pollack (2011). Delivering on the promise of his breakthrough short story collection Knockemstiff, Pollack's debut novel is part John Steinbeck, part Nick Cave, with the assured punch of a man who has lived rough and real. A testament to the late bloomer.

Purgatory - Tomas Eloy Martinez (2011). Probably the best book about The Disappearances that i have ever read, Purgatory is a moving examination of national identity in times of crisis. Beautiful, wistful and brutal.

The Family Carnovsky - I. J. Singer (1969). OK, it's no Brothers Askenazi, but it's still the better Singer at the top of his game. A powerful tale of assimilation and destruction set between fin de siecle Germany and the onset of World War 2.

My Life in CIA - Harry Mathews (2005). Hilarious memoir by the only American member of the Oulipo group, My Life In CIA recounts the time Mathews pretended to be a CIA agent simply because all his friends in Paris already assumed he was. Literary loopiness at its best.

Beside The Sea - Veronique Olmi (2002). The saddest, most harrowing book I read this year, Beside The Sea will crush your heart, mince it, feed it to wild boars, kill the boars, burn them on a spit and feed what's left to a crocodile. Then it will skin the crocodile for boots. Yeah, it's beautiful but holy crap, the sheer awfulness of it all could destroy even the most sturdy of readers.


KCRW Bookworm. My man crush on Michael Silverblat continues. The guy has to be the most well-read person on the planet, and to listen to him really immerse himself in a book in the presence of its author is a true privilege. In other words, he is the James Wood of the audiolit world, but without the massive arsehole tendencies.

Literary Disco - A slightly slicker Bookrageous with three fellow booknerds yacking it up in an engaging, enjoyable hour of random bookishness.

BBC's A Good Read. Two random celebrities (some from the land of literature, some theatre, some politics, etc etc) and the host recommend a 'good read' each then set about either blowing smoke up one another's arses or diplomatically stabbing one another in the throat.

The New York Times Book Review. Still the best weekly wrap up of what's going on in the literary world. News, reviews and the most important chart around.

Judge John Hodgman. The cases are real. The decisions are final (and wonderfully ridiculous). Welcome to the court of Judge John Hodgman. Comedy geek extraordinaire Hodgman plays Judge Judy in real life cases and makes a total mockery of justice.


It's been a pretty great year for music and I couldn't, in good conscience, whittle my list down to just ten top releases. So here's my baker's dozen, in which I kind of cheat even more and shove a few together as ties:

13. Ty Segall - Twins: The new messiah of surf rock dropped a chronically catchy, distortion soaked album of consistent greatness. This weirdo is poised for huge things.

12. Locked Down - Dr. John: He may be around 150 years old by now, but the old rocking bluesy jazzman (can't really lock him down - pardon the pun - to a readily definable genre) still has the kinda balls anyone a tenth of his age would envy. Revolution has to be one of the songs of the year.

11. A three way tie: NOFX - Self Entitled, Propagandhi - Failed States, Bad Brains - Into The Future. Ah, it's my teenage years all tied up in a neat package. None of these records were amazing, but all were very good. Propagandhi was a bit samey, NOFX had some killer tracks but a bit of filler, and Bad Brains... well that was the most infuriating record of the year; moments of absolute brilliance and then some absolute crap.

10. Public Enemy - Most of My Heroes Still Don't Appear On No Stamps: It's been a while since I listened to these guys, but this was a welcome return to form. Angry, smart, suprising and damn catchy. Unfortunately, their second album of the year, The Evil Empire of Everything, didn't quite live up to this one. PE, Green Day, listen here. One album a year please. That's it.

9. Another tie. Future of the Left - The Plot Against Common Sense and Toys That Kill - Fambly 42: FOTL bring you another serve of abrasive chaos just to remind you that they are the masters of the form. I preferred Travels With Myself and Others, but this was still pretty great. As for Toys That Kill, it's been a long time between drinks but this is speedy pop punk perfection from probably the most underrated bunch of champions in the biz. Get it if you even slightly like yourself.

8. fun. - Some Nights: Go f&^% yourselves, cred police. I totally fell for this throwback to bombastic Freddie Mercury opera pop. Wonderfully tender commercial perfection.

7. Classics of Love - Classics of Love: Jesse Michaels returns with his best work since Operation Ivy. Actually, I think this is even better than Op Ivy. There, I said it.

6. Not On Tour - All This Time: Most unexpected album of the year. Israeli speed punksters with kick-arse female vox deliver the best thing to come out of that region since hummus.

5. Frenzal Rhomb - Smoko In The Pet Food Factory: I always enjoy these Aussie legends, but it seems they've been back on the funny juice because Smoko... really is the best thing they've done since Meet The Family. The fact they've finally gone to an amazing studio and don't sound like they've recorded in an underwater outhouse didn't hurt either.

4. Burning Love - Rotten Thing To Say: Dirty, rocky, punky awesomeness from a band I hadn't even heard of before I downloaded this album on a whim. Trust me, you've got to get some Burning Love in your ears.

3. White Lung - Sorry. Can't believe I forgot this on the original post. Amazing, buzzsaw punk record from one of the most exciting bands around at the moment. It's fast, ferocious and femme fronted - a killer combination.

2. Pennywise - All Or Nothing: The dinosaurs return with a new lease on life thanks to the best pipes in the business, new singer Zoli Teglas. Sure, it just sounds like an awesome Ignite album but what's not to love about that? I was dismayed to hear they've since booted Zoli in favour of bringing Jim back into the fold. Back to the graveyard, I guess.

1. Morning Glory - Poets Were My Heroes: There are plenty of great heroin records out there but this would have to be the most beautiful one I've ever encountered. Part recovery diary, part hymn to hope, Poets Were My Heroes left me emotionally spent, but with a new appreciation of the fragility of life. While Stza continues to be a self-centred douchebag deserving of every fist a fan throws his way, his Leftover Crack bandmate Ezra Kire has triumphed with true grace. An easy winner for me.

2012: The New Year's Aspiration Scorecard

on Wednesday, December 19, 2012
I really don't know why I bother setting goals for myself each year; I clearly do very little to achieve them. This year was no exception. I completely disregarded them all in favour of a characteristically lassaiz faire approach to reading and writing. I'm almost reluctant to write this entry, but if I won't whip my own back with stinging nettles, who will?

1. Read Less, Write More. Not a complete failure. At 120-odd books and still counting, I'm down on my usual average so that's something. I also did a fair amount of writing albeit not quite as much as I'd hoped. My self-imposed deadline of September 30 flew by without so much as an ink splotch but I am making progress (more tortoise than hare-like, it seems). Looking back, 2012 will be remembered as a year cushily spent resting on my laurels. My two published stories enjoyed quite a prolonged life - publication in The Age, Best Australian Stories 2012 and Award Winning Australian Writing 2012, licensing by the ABC to be read as a radio program, participation in my first ever writers' festival, public readings, etc - and I was quite happy to just sit back and enjoy the ride. Alas, the fire has now been reduced to its last few embers (or ash, to be more precise) so 2013 is going to have to be a much more productive one if I don't want to feel totally stagnant this time next year. But there I go putting the cart before the horse again...

2. Stop Being Such A Lit Wanker. Genre fiction and graphic novels didn't exactly feature heavily on my 2012 reading list but I did make a fairly decent showing of trying to read a bit more of them. For the most part they were enjoyable (special props to Lost Dogs by Jeff Lemire, The Postman Always Rings Twice by James Cain and, yes, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn) so there may still be hope for me yet. Don't hold your breath though. I'm still a total wanker.

3. Smell The Roses. End-of-year rush aside (I'm trying to rip through ten more books before NYE), I think I did a pretty decent job. And even though I'd like to credit a concerted effort on my part to stick to at least one of my New Years Aspirations, I simply cannot. Any success on this particular point stemmed from serendipity, not design. I read as I usually read. Sometimes it was slower, sometimes faster. A busier law calendar certainly contributed, as did my 2012 tendency to travel whenever the opportunity arose. So great success, but not thanks to me.

4. Tangible Aspirations: War and Peace, Sartre's Roads To Freedom, Lev Grossman, Gaiman's American Gods. Here's where I really set myself up for failure. Nope, nope, nope and nope. Holy crap, those nettles sting!

5. Lose 95 Kilos and Exist in A Vacuum. Strangely, I didn't do too badly on this one. I did lose a few kilos and, by becoming ever more hermit-like, existed somewhat in a vacuum (at least so far as my friends were concerned). So bravo me. Successful at the one NY Aspiration that was totally absurd.

Well, that about wraps it up for another year of predictable stumbles. Of course I'll come up with new ones for 2013, but I'm thinking it might be more prescient to set the bar much lower so I can smash it out of the park. Read 25 books? Write half a chapter? Take Louie for three walks? Yeah, I think I can do that.

Be sure to check back over the next ten days as I unveil all my picks of 2012. It's been a great reading year, so I have hell of a lot to say about some truly remarkable books!

2012: The Shelf of Shame

on Sunday, December 16, 2012
You know the drill. Before I go singing the praises of the truly remarkable books that came out this year I must first clear my throat of the phlegm. And so it is with green, mucilaginous glee that I bring you 2012's Shelf of Shame.

Sometimes the shepherds of literary culture lead us into apoplectic anticipation by pulling the wool over our eyes. Time to give the sheep a fringe:

HHhH by Laurent Binet. Sometime in March, I began to hear whispers about a revolutionary work of historical fiction that had won every prize under the sun in France and was about to take over the rest of the literary world. Those of us interested in Holocaust fiction trembled with anticipation, occasionally stopping to wipe the saliva from our shoes. When it finally arrived, HHhH proved to be a crushing disappointment. Hardly a revelation of any kind, it was a simple piece of documentary storytelling (not unlike a Wikipedia entry) with the odd intrusion of a very annoying knob putting in his two cents about the writing process.

This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz. Critics went nuts for this. Readers lined up in droves to heap the stars on their online reviews. I, however, saw stasis, not progress. Yes, Diaz is an exciting voice in fiction, but he is starting to sound a little monotonous. I ended up wanting to push Yunior under a train.

Mortality by Christopher Hitchens. Don't crucify me. I believed the hype. One of the great minds of modern times honestly and defiantly reflects on his descent into the abyss. This could have been so great but, when all was said and done, Hitchens found the one topic against which he could rage but on which he seemed to have little true insight. Mortality certainly had moments of epiphany, but they were drowned in a swamp of confusion. Remember Hitchens for everything else he wrote. Let this be just a footnote.

2012 was a bumper year for expectations. Quite a few of my favourite authors published new works. Some came through. Others... well:

Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan: Many readers thought Sweet Tooth a return to form after the disappointing Solar (which, it seems, I am the only person to have liked). Strangely devoid of the familiar McEwan formula - catastrophic event befalls ordinary person - this one revisited the mindfuck device he used in Atonement, albeit in a classic 70s MI5 spy context. Unfortunately, lightning did not strike twice. Sweet Tooth is not a bad book by any stretch of the imagination, but it is a little lazy and ultimately unsatisfying.

The Investigation by Philippe Claudel. Holy shit I was excited about this. Claudel, the author of my favourite novel of the past five years, returned with a book that promised to be part Kafka part Calvino (and, I suppose, part Claudel). Instead, The Investigation turned out to be a self-conscious meta wankfest that wasn't a patch on either of the aforementioned authors and did very little to further Claudel in my estimation. As I said in my review, only one person ever did the Kafka thing well and he died of TB back in June 1924.

Dirt by David Vann. To my mind, Vann has positioned himself to become the true heir to Cormac McCarthy. Equally bleak and nihilistic, with enough originality to avoid simply being dismissed as sycophantic fan fiction, both his debut story collection and first novel absolutely blew me away. This Oedipal mess had its moments but for the most part was an exercise in losing control. I'll allow him this misstep on the basis of "difficult second album syndrome", but I expect far better in the future.

Dishonourable Mentions:
Stonemouth by Iain Banks. Someone please tell me why I still expect good books from this guy.
Zoo Time by Howard Jacobson. This time the joke is on him. Ho hum farce of a middling order.
Mr Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan. Following all the buzz, I'm not sure what I expected. It was not, however, this amalgamation of Carlos Ruiz Zafon and Dan Brown.

50 Covers of Grey
Yes, yes. Tawdriness is the new Twilight. But must every book that involves fisting and gerbils have the same bloody cover (metaphorically speaking)? I smell a cynical cash-grab aimed squarely at bored housewives. As I said to one bookseller after he sold an E.L. James novel to an ageing tennis mum, "Now imagine her reading that in the bath while masturbating."

It's a tie between We All Fall Down by Peter Barry and Lionel Asbo by Martin Amis

You may recall Peter Barry from last year's list. No, not the shelf of shame. The top ten. His debut, I Hate Martin Amis Et Al was one of the most refreshing, hilarious, gutsy novels I have read. This, however, shared none of those qualities. I'm not sure whether We All Fall Down was sitting in his bottom drawer and pounced upon by the publisher after the unexpected hit of Amis, or whether he quickly cobbled it together in the hope of keeping up the momentum he had suddenly generated, but whatever the reason someone should have nipped it in the bud. We All Fall Down is a boring, turgid, indulgent waste of trees.

If only I could say such lovely things about Martin Amis's latest disaster. Subtitled A State Of The Nation Novel, Lionel Asbo was merely a vehicle for Amis to toss nerf pebbles from his crystal palace at his distorted idea of England. And what a tosser he was! Neither funny nor excoriating, this was about as useless a novel as I could imagine. I'll always love The Information but oh how the mighty can fall. Now I'm with Peter Barry. I too hate Martin Amis.

2012: The Countdowns Begin

on Saturday, December 15, 2012
2012 has been a bumper year for literature and though I didn't get to read as many books as I had hoped, and missed out on a few in particular that I suspect I would have liked, I still got through almost 120 which gives me a decent pool from which to draw my end of year lists.

To counter my ever-growing penchant for procrastination, I'm setting out a timeline for the rest of the year. I'm spacing them out as much as possibly to allow me to get through the last few books before finalising my top ten. So, assuming I can actually stick to a deadline (first time for everything), this is how it will go:

Sunday 16 December: The Shelf of Shame

Wednesday 19 December: The New Year's Aspirations Report Card

Sunday 23 December: Secondary Stars and Other Satellites

Thursday 27 December: The "Best Of" Bridesmaids

Saturday 29 December: The Final Countdown

Sunday 30 December: 2012 Book Of The Year

The Worm Goes Wireless (and National)

Just a quick one to let you know that my story, The Prisoner of Babel, will be read on ABC Radio National Sunday Story tomorrow (Sunday, December 16) at 2.30pm. I'm super excited that it was chosen, a little nervous to hear it and still a tiny bit hopeful that it might be read by James Earl Jones (even though I know it will not). Check out the feature on the ABC here, where I think you will also be able to download it as a podcast.

For those of you who want to read it in print form, it was published in The Sleepers Almanac Vol. 7 which you can check out here.

The End Of The Year As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)

on Tuesday, December 11, 2012
After a fairly long absence, I'm glad to report that I am well and truly back on board and frantically compiling my end of year lists. Prepare yourselves people. The Mayans were wrong. There is no escaping the deluge of sanctimonious literary judgement that is about to ensue!