I love road trips, and especially love travelling solo to (1) stop whenever I like (e.g. to taste-test an award-winning item from a country bakery. Hello Tatura Hot Bread vanilla slice! Gee, you were nice!) and (2) sing out loud to my favourite songs (e.g. Italian Plastic by Crowded House). But I also love podcasts, so on a drive home to Melbourne from Forbes last weekend, I was looking forward to finally listening to A Word In Your Ear.
Hosted by Kelly Higgins-Devine and Professor Roly Sussex (ABC Radio, Brisbane), all manner of topics related to the English language are up for discussion. The eps I listened to were about the language of politeness, the letter u, and such homophones as ceiling and sealing. Callers ask their questions, and Prof. Sussex, who insists on being called Roly, answers them if he can, which seems to be most of the time. He is a fount of knowledge, and something about the sound of his voice is reassuring. Everyone is passionate, even when confounded, which is also most of the time. It’s a delight for word lovers and made for a fun few hours on the road. Give it a go!
Photograph: Billabong Creek, Jerilderie NSW, by Desanka Vukelich.
Link: A Word In Your Ear
Nicole has written and illustrated a gorgeous book called What Time do Elephants go to Work? (Resonance Publishing, 2017). The book was inspired by her son, who as a 3-year-old asked this question of his mama. It aims to teach kids how to tell the time, in both digital and analogue formats; no matter your age, however, the book is a colourful delight to leaf through. A smile will appear on your face and stay there!
Winter is the perfect season to delve into its icy depths. Painstakingly researched, the setting of rural life in 19th Century Iceland just suits the warm glow of lamplight and, ideally, rain pounding the window as you adhere yourself to the unfolding drama of Agnes’ wretched life. The sadness and stench of it, the bone-chilling tragedy of it; it’s magnetising. Kent paints images so visceral, I often found tears streaking down my face unawares, not to mention the constant fluctuations in body temperature. The weather is a potent protagonist.
Outside the Breidabólstadur croft, the cold stung Tóti’s cheeks and set his ears aching. He struggled to breathe as he saddled his sleepy mare and turned her towards Kornsá. Even as the fog gave way to snow, shaking down flakes that tangled in his cob’s mane, and Tóti felt his limbs grow sore from so long in the sharp air, he cast his mind back, again and again, to the woman he met by the Gönguskörd pass, and the memory warmed him to the bone.
Delicious stuff, these words. I was moved to learn Agnes indeed lived and breathed such a fate; Kent has honoured a life, more precious for its precariousness.
“And be sure of this, I spent my entire youth writing slowly with revisions and endless rehashing speculation and deleting and got so I was writing one sentence a day and the sentence had no FEELING. Goddamn it, FEELING is what I like in art, not CRAFTINESS and the hiding of feelings.”
Link: Jack Kerouac, The Art of Fiction No. 41, The Paris Review
Chasing the origin of a new word is one of my favourite pastimes. I’d been curious about Café Feoh, a local spot with an intriguing name. I finally popped in to ask how to pronounce the word and what it meant. The owners cheerfully told me it was the first letter of the Runic alphabet and to them represented prosperity and good fortune. Later I found an article all about it. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did. (Also, isn’t the title of the article delightful?)
Photograph: Desanka Vukelich.
Link: A Rune with a View
Paris is my favourite place in the world. On a literary-inspired amble through the city on a chilly, grey November day, I came upon this sculpture near La Sorbonne. It depicts Michel Montaigne (1533-1592), well-known as introducing the essay style of writing.
Location: rue des Ecoles, Paris.
Photograph: Desanka Vukelich.
Link: What made Michel de Montaigne the first modern man?
Image: A meeting of the board of directors at Faber, March 1944. From left to right TS Eliot, Morley Kennedy, Geoffrey Faber, WJ Crawley, Miss CB Sheldon and Richard de la Mare.
Photograph: Picture Post/Felix Mann and Kurt Hutton/Getty Images.
Source: The lost art of editing