Mid Year Update.

A friend is currently travelling across France and posted this beautiful photo of Poppies growing wild in the fields. Aren’t they just beautiful?

I recently planted my second lot of 2000 Poppy seeds to be in full bloom for Armistice Day. 100 per cent Fail Rate, second time in a row. The long dead Depression parents must be watching over me. I can hear “ Pet, if you can’t eat it, we don’t grow it” in my head.

 

FCE36840-0603-43FD-B500-FAE037479E4DAs of today’s date I have finished 60 books this year. Another dozen or so were started, but dismissed as trash. Life is too short for Trash.

Here is my haul from the latest book charity sale. $5 well spent, don’t you think?  Well, closer to $20 when you take into consideration raffle tickets and Girl Guide Biscuits.

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The Little Street Library is starting to get a few visitors, with locals both contributing and borrowing books.It looks like some of our littlest readers are having fun:

Only one book left to complete the 2018 Australian Author Challenge. Four years ago I could have named only a handful of successful authors from my own country. This Challenge has motivated me to read and appreciate more Aussie literature, and not just by those few making a good living out of it. It has also allowed me to track my reading habits – with not a wretched spreadsheet insight – which has in turn encouraged the reading of different genres. (Is that personal growth? And aren’t I too old to care?).

Local author, Daniel O’Malley, a friend of my youngest daughter, who I very courageously reviewed here recently, (courageously because he writes “ Sci Fi, Fantasy, with a dash of Monty Python” !!) has recently had his book, Rook, picked up by the BBC for conversion to a television series. Good job, young Dan!

Another of my projects is creating a list of authors that will encourage me to read an author from every country in 2019. I’m thinking an A – Z thing.

The Christmas in July Trivia Night is coming along ok although getting bums on seats can be a pain in the posterior. (Collective groan). It is a fundraiser for Wounded Heroes, an organisation which assists our exservice men and women when they need a hand up. The Country Women Association, those great purveyors of scones, jam and cream, are on board to cook Roast Lamb and veg and Apple Crumble for 150. Wish you all lived closer….

And a development in the She-Shack…….

Since downsizing 18 months ago I don’t have the same wall space to place my bibs and bobs.  Now I have an easel which will allow a rotating display. It’s my very own Peggy Gluggenheim Museum.

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It is winter now and I am loving it, though just like grizzley bears, I do tend to go into hibernation.
Continue reading “Mid Year Update.”

Australian Author Challenge : Enemy by Ruth Clare

Ruth Clare’s debut Enemy won the Asher Literary Award, offered biennially to a female author whose work carries an anti-war theme. She was born in Brisbane, Queensland,  and raised in Rockhampton. She earned a degree in biochemistry and journalism at QUT in Brisbane, Queensland. She went on to train as a copywriter and worked in advertising. During this time she had been working on a manuscript. After finishing it in 2014 she found an agent. Her first book was published in 2016.

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With the opening sentence, “I was born into the war still raging inside my father”, the reader immediately gathers that this autobiography is not going to be an easy read.

Doug Callum is an ex Vietnam Veteran, with a wife and three young children, with Ruth being the middle child. He is a totally different person to the young man conscripted to Vietnam and who was involved in the Battle of Coral–Balmoral. This battle (12 May – 6 June 1968) was a series of actions fought between the 1st Australian Task Force (1 ATF) and the North Vietnamese 7th Division and Viet Cong Main Force units, 40 kilometres north-east of Saigon.

Ruth tells her harrowing story as a child growing up in a household of regimentation and strict discipline. She and her siblings are often covered in bruises and Ruth lives constantly on guard in fear of upsetting her father, and feeling unloved and unwanted.

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“I had never been to war, but I knew what it was like to be prepared to face the enemy every day. The difference was, my enemy wasn’t a faceless stranger. My enemy was someone I loved.”

She also tells her story as a young mother with her own children, looking back to take stock of her father’s behaviour, which she later learns has all the hallmarks of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. She seeks out and communicates with numerous Vietnam Vets who admit to similar antisocial traits as well as seeking counselling through the Vietnam Veterans Association.

When Ruth’s parents inevitably divorce, we breathe a sigh of relief – though not for long. PTSD is insidious and leaches into other situations with frightening ramifications.

However, Ruth’s story is not all bleak and you can’t but admire her personal strength and resilience, as well as her compassion for her flawed father and other PTSD sufferers. On a more personal level I admire the author’s willingness to learn the details of her Dad’s role in the military, something he rarely discussed, which adds greatly to her understanding of his condition.

Doug Callum died too young of a skin cancer, suspected to have been brought on by sitting in the jungle of Vietnam for days on end with Agent Orange raining overhead.

I also respect Ruth for her compassion for her mother who has her own demons.

Written extremely well, this is another of those books that should be included on High School Reading Lists, not only for its information about the war in Vietnam, but also mental health awareness and domestic violence issues.

Not a “nice” book, but one that would have taken much courage to write.

NOTE: June is PTSD Awareness Month in Australia.