Put on your killer heels and go west!

Or any other compass direction for that matter, just get out of Christchurch for a bit. I went to Auckland last week, where the full impact of how our earthquake  lives have changed hit home. It was the footwear that got to me in the end. High strappy sandals in bright sunny colours for the women and polished Italian shoes for the men.

Will I ever again see shoes like that pounding the streets of Christchurch? To cheer myself up I actually bought a book  and repaired to the nearest coffee shop – which had collected $181.60 for my home town. This kindness made me feel as if I came from a far away galaxy where the citizens are very old and wise  and wear ugly shoes.

As for the book – this is the first time that Annie Proulx (she of The Shipping News fame) has let me down. In her memoir Bird Cloud she manages to  both welcome her readers in and simultaneously lock us out. Apparently, even the very rich and famous (who clearly have not watched enough episodes of  Grand Designs) can also make disastrous property decisions.

In Proulx’s effort-filled building project, the house sounds dire, the landscape forbidding and the endless pondering over minute archaeological scraps left me stone cold. But it was only when I found myself having uncharitable thoughts about migratory birds that I  got out the killer heels.

Back home, I’ve been so relentlessly positive lately that I found it quite hard to stick the stiletto into this book. Now it’s done, I feel so much better. As Lionel Shriver said: It’s OK to hate a book.

So, join me and cross over to your dark side. Which books do you love to hate?

17 thoughts on “Put on your killer heels and go west!

  1. Sally 13 April 2011 / 2:12 pm

    I totally agree about shoe envy for other cities. In Wellington a couple of weeks ago I had trouble lifting my gaze above ankle level – unless it was killer boots she was wearing. I think a shoe-buying, or even shoe-watching – expedition to another city should be noted as a post-earthquake recovery necessity.

  2. cloudy5 13 April 2011 / 3:22 pm

    I was supposed to read ‘The Master’ by Colm Toibin for my book group meeting tomorrow evening. I read 14 pages and was left so uninterested that I have not returned to it. Maybe lack of concentration, depth of thought and a fondness for utter flufflit at the moment are my excuses…or maybe it’s just not a very inspiring read?

    • robertafsmith 13 April 2011 / 5:36 pm

      Having BOUGHT Bird Cloud, I felt compelled to read to the end, otherwise I think I would have given up as well. Do you know anyone who has read and loved it?

  3. Simon Nye 13 April 2011 / 7:35 pm

    Love this post :D!
    I struggle to think of a book that I hate … ah, there we go, got one (genre). I really can’t stand those esoteric books that get up their own backside — where the author takes it as an opportunity to get up on his (or her) soap box to blather on inanely. I am a lover of this genre, but not when the author is near-sighted or just plain wrong (‘The Meaning of Life’ springs to mind with it’s atrocious cover).

    • robertafsmith 13 April 2011 / 8:38 pm

      This is a winner – a bad book WITH a bad cover – must seek this out!

  4. julesw 14 April 2011 / 7:12 pm

    What a can of worms you may have opened Roberta. How exciting! Love to hate, hmm – number one has to be celebrity authors who don’t know how to write which is totally frustrating when there are so many aspiring authors out there never getting to print. Second has to be blockbuster authors who could do with a damned good editing. What’s that all about I ask myself? Are publishing houses too wary of altering one precious word of their demi-gods? And thirdly, nz fiction that is so darned literary they think they’re a cut above the rest of the world. Meanwhile, the rest of us wonder what it’s all about and simply long for an absorbing read that doesn’t require masses of re-reading to actually understand what they’re banging on about. Can’t wait for your next post!

    • Marion 15 April 2011 / 12:35 pm

      Hi Jules. Totally agree especially about New Zealand novels. Last NZ author I read with any joy was Maurice Gee. Jolisa Gracewood gets into here http://publicaddress.net/busytown/a-new-old-sensation/

      I wonder if its the Bill Manhire course at Victoria? They are all so clever it makes us feel intimidated??

      • julesw 15 April 2011 / 3:52 pm

        Thanks Marion – I always know a frisson of terror after hitting the send button, imagining I’m the only blogging person who’s intensely disinterested in the majority of nz fiction! I seriously thought there were something wrong with me when others were recommending AS The Earth Turns Silver. I do wonder if one has to be born and raised in nz to truly appreciate its works of fiction. Having said that, I don’t have any trouble with hooking into fiction from other countries in the world. Ah well.

        Great link though & I really enjoyed being reminded of all those wonderful nz authors writing for our teens – how could I possibly have forgotten Margarey Mahy’s The Changeover? A true classic – even with a few rotten weatherboards included.

      • robertafsmith 15 April 2011 / 4:38 pm

        I love Laurence Fearnley, she manages to make her writing so Kiwi WITHOUT lambasting one with a lot of geographic info and or kiwi icons. Just spare and beautiful. That said the worst NZ book I have ever read is Stonefish by Keri Holme. I have no idea what she was on about.

  5. julesw 14 April 2011 / 7:13 pm

    P.S. – I have a pair of killer red stilettos that you’re welcome to borrow? What size are you?

    • robertafsmith 15 April 2011 / 4:39 pm

      I gave up wearing stilettos a long time ago. It wouldn’t be the shoe size that would be a problem, more that I now have no head for heights!

  6. jane 15 April 2011 / 3:22 pm

    Just lately I have hated everthing I have read. I think it’s the eq, or at least I am blaming that, I can’t imagine that our Library fiction buyer is deliberately buying books that I would hate! I am hopeful though as I now have the new T.C Boyle “When the Killing’s done”. I loved his book “A friend of the earth”.

    • julesw 15 April 2011 / 3:46 pm

      I agree. Reading’s been a struggle since February and there’s only one book that’s kept me totally engrossed. A debut novel, Mr Chartwell by Rebecca Hunt – I’m a bit vague as to why I enjoyed this book so much but think it has a lot to do with its originality and quirkiness. Perhaps “hate” is too strong a word? How about total disinterest?

      And after all, you can’t please all of the people all of the time & to me that’s what our libraries are all about – a huge selection and variety for all and sundry.

    • robertafsmith 15 April 2011 / 4:42 pm

      Hope this book works for you Jane. It would be dreadful to lose the comfort of reading just when we need it most!

    • Marion 17 April 2011 / 1:33 pm

      Hi Jane. I’m reading again. Seeing a story on television about Japanese earthquake victims who are still homeless and living in school halls made me think of a favourite childhood tale, The Cheerful Heart by Elizabeth Janet Gray. I checked my bookshelves and yay I still had it. As soon as I began reading it and saw the charming black and white illustrations happy memories came flooding back.

      It is the story of a Japanese family who return to Tokyo in 1946. Their house has been burnt down during the war and the government built replacement is small and cheap. Over the course of the book, little vignettes of Japanese life and customs and the slow rebuilding of Tokyo emerge. Much of the story is told from the point of view of Tomi, an eleven year old optimist who is the cheerful heart of her family. As a child I found this a fascinating and comforting book and the magic has not worn off as an adult.
      I wonder if anyone local will write a post earthquake book for older children?
      Maybe returning to some of your childhood favourites might help.

  7. robertafsmith 15 April 2011 / 4:41 pm

    Has anyone who has read this blog read the annie Proulx – Bird Cloud? I am really interested to know what others have thought of it.

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