14 November, 2006

Remove My Brain And Replace It With A Turnip

Ruminations pointed me to Bibliobibuli's post on Nick Hornby's comments about Low Lit, or lowbrow reading.
...reading for enjoyment is what we all should be doing. I don't mean we should all be reading chick lit or thrillers (although if that's what you want to read, it's fine by me, because here's something no one will ever tell you: if you don't read the classics or the novel that won this year's Booker Prize, then nothing bad will happen to you; more importantly, nothing good will happen to you if you do); I simply mean that turning pages should not be like walking through thick mud...

Which is the line of defence I use when people question why I try to spend all of my youth budget on Hellboy. But then I realised that the "walking through thick mud" quote is rather similar to how I have described reading Patrick White. Although I prefer to say it is like swimming through treacle.
Despite this, I love the work of Patrick White. I've started Voss at least four times, I've read The Twyborn Affair twice (and got different things out of it) I find A Fringe of Leaves to be a wonderful read, I saw a Sydney Theatre Company performance of The Ham Funeral which was some of the best theatre I have ever seen. In short, there is a lot to be said for "walking through thick mud" because the willingness to push yourself beyond your comfort zone is important.
So when I saw this little opinion piece in the Herald The Great Patrick White Massacre Is About To Be Unleashed I was more than a little taken aback.
The discovery of Patrick White's rough drafts just shows that there's a good and bad side to everything. The five people in the world who actually read Patrick White novels will be pleased...

This is the sort of Dickhead thinking that saw Shakespeare taken off school reading lists. But just because not everyone is set up to read Patrick White (or Shakespeare) doesn't mean that we should be preventing those who want to, to give it a try. Nor should we hold back from giving those who could read something a bit more high brow a push in that direction. Because while Nick Hornby says "we have to promote the joys of reading, rather than the (dubious) benefits" I would suggest that we could strike a balance and rather than turn out a whole generation of average students who all read average books we could suggest something more challenging. But then this is Australia, the great egalitarian land and if we give some kids Patrick White and other kids Selby Goes To Fluffy Bunny Town then we might be suggesting that some kids are smarter than others and that would cause our entire society to fall down into a screaming great heap. Because in Australia we are all equally gifted intellectually and the only way to tell one person from another is by our Sporting Ability.

Funny, this seems to have taken a turn away from what I started writing.
So let me end with
Read Patrick White, it might not be as simple to read as Hovercar Racer but it's well worth the effort. And it might get you thinking about this putrefying averageness which invades every aspect of Australian society. White knew about it and fought it but Matthew Reilly (and many other authors) just seems to be exploiting it as a market for books which are as intellectually bankrupt as most of the vapid TV we get spoonfed.

3 comments:

bibliobibuli said...

oh hello! i love patrick white too - at least 'tree of man' and 'riders in the chariot'. but i haven't conquered 'voss' yet.

thanks for linking me in this post. it's a thrill to be read by folks so far away.

and i think i have adhd too. my nephew was dignosed and when i checked it up on the website to see what it was i found myself exclaiming 'that's me'!

ADHD Librarian said...

read by folks so far away?
{sings} It's a small web after all, It's a small web after all, It's a small web after all, it's a small small small small web {/sings}
The funny thing about the ADHD diagnosis is that while I love it (and wave it around like some sort of banner), I'm not always sure I believe in it. That is to say, we're all different and accepting this badge kind of makes me feel like I'm saying my sort of different is worse than someone who can sit through their mindless lectures at school (or uni) and regurgitate it perfectly even if they're so boring an uninspiring that their lives will never ever produce anything interesting.
It's like saying Mozart was wrong but that guy in accounts with the grey suit and grey tie and grey combover is the sort of guy the world needs more of.

So I guess, when you say you have ADHD I'd say, embrace it, love it, let it work for you but remember (when/if you ever get down about it) it means you live in a better world than everyone else.

And I haven't even said anything in this email about Patrick White, but then it's already a longer more incoherent email than most people want to get from a stranger, so I'll leave it at that.

CW said...

You know, for some reason your feed hasn't been showing up in Bloglines for the past few weeks, and I was just about to email you to prod you back into blogging (and to see if all was well in NT), when for some reason I checked Technorati today and lo and behold you'd linked to my blog, so of course I had to take a look, and what do I find but a whole lot of posts I had no idea you'd been writing?!? Stupid RSS. (Actually I have no idea where the glitch is - it could be Bloglines because yours is not the only feed that hasn't been appearing - but it's satisfying to say it.)

I couldn't agree more about reading Patrick White. Some books are worth reading because you just know that if you stick with them you'll be rewarded in the long run. Am I contradicting myself here? Does it matter?

Is there a point to this comment? I'm not sure. Maybe it's this: link to my blog more often :D