Blog Archives

HistoryRead Author Interview: Joy Ware

Our latest podcast episode features an interview with local writer Joy Ware, author of Altnachree: An Irish castle, a family and a man with a passion. This title fits in nicely with our September reading theme – #HistoryRead. Part biography, family history and local history all mixed into one, this book tells the story of Joy’s ancestors and their grand family home, Altnachree Castle, which is now an old ruin located in County Tyrone, Ireland. Joy spoke about her book at Katoomba Library last week, and is soon to commence a book tour of Ireland. Click here to listen online, or search for ‘Listeners in the Mist’ in iTunes to subscribe to our podcast.

Also, you can find out more about Joy’s book, and give it a ‘Like’, here: https://www.facebook.com/AltnachreeCastle

Altnachree Castle

 

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Podcast: Anime 101

Ever wanted to know where to start with watching Anime (Japanese animation)? Join Kingleo Chuenchom for this Young Adult podcast episode. Click here to listen online, or search for ‘Listeners in the Mist’ in the iTunes.

Crimeread: Lenny Bartulin and P. M. Newton

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Before their fabulous talk at Springwood Library last week, crime authors Lenny Bartulin and P. M. Newton were kind enough to drop in with John Merriman for our Crimeread podcast episode. If you are interested in Australian crime fiction, or even just the writing life, this is the episode for you! Listen here, or search for ‘Listeners in the Mist’ in iTunes.

December Book Review Winner

A big thank you to all of those who entered our Love2Read book review competition each month last year. It was wonderful to find out what all of you were reading, and discover some new writers!

Patricia Allen has won the last Love2Read book review competition for 2012 – congratulations, Pat! She also won back in October with her entry about The Man Who Loved China, by Simon Winchester, and was an interviewee on our podcast, Listeners in the Mist.

You can read her winning entry for December here:

The Surgeon of Crowthorne, by Simon Winchester, is an intriguing tale, including murder and madness, describing the mighty effort involved in the making of the Oxford English Dictionary.

Though there had been attempts before Dr Johnson’s dictionary in 1755, there was no in depth help for the meanings of words. By the 19th Century the need for a comprehensive dictionary was manifest. In 1878, James Murray, a brilliant lexicographer, born in 1837, was asked to produce one. He considered the work might take several years.

Murray needed the help of hundreds of volunteers who would read ancient writings, record words, write meanings and usages for assessment.

It took years to complete the letter A. The letter T took 5 years. It would take another 44 years to complete. Altogether, more than 70 years passed to produce the first edition of the great New English Dictionary in 1928. In 1933 the first supplement was known as the Oxford English or OED.

An American medical doctor , William Chester Minor born 1834, was retired from the American Army having been a surgeon in the American Civil War. Events in 1864 had unhinged this gentle man. He was irreparably damaged psychologically and medically discharged with a pension enabling him to travel to England. Dr Minor was highly intelligent, a cultured and an educated graduate from Yale university, though one with a greedy sexual appetite.

Simon Winchester’s vivid description of mid 19th Century London is a necessary reminder for those who only know present day London. Dr Minor was living in the area of the Lambeth marshes, south of the Thames, with undrained swamps, miserable slums, stinking tanneries and soap boilers. It was an area of many brothels enabling easy access to women. One night in 1872, tormented out of his mind with paranoia, Dr Minor shot a man and was subsequently committed to the Broadmoor Lunatic Asylum for the criminally insane.

At Broadmoor, he became a trusted prisoner housed in comfort, rather like a gentleman’s club, with privileges, books etc. His comforts included tobacco, a penknife, coffee, bookcases of his own books (his consuming passion), clothes, his flute and music, fob watch and gold chain.

When James Murray sought volunteers for his project, Dr Minor answered the call and for decades filled his days, whilst imprisoned in his cell at Crowthorne, reading, writing, and contributing to the compilation of the OED. It became a bizarre friendship for over 30 years, between two highly intelligent gentle men who loved the written word.

James Murray aimed to assess 33 words per day but sometimes one word would take almost a full day. It was a huge undertaking.

Dr Minor would read voraciously, record the words from rare, ancient books, especially 17th C authors, and send the scripts to Oxford for assessment.
Work on the Dictionary was Dr Minor’s medication.

A change of Prison Superintendent caused removal of many privileges from and heartless treatment of Dr Minor. He became unsettled and unhappy. As he aged his mental state deteriorated, delusions increased and his memories of past sexual conquests caused such loathing of his ‘sins’ that one day in December 1902 he amputated his penis with the penknife and threw his member into the fire.

Dr Minor was taken to America by his brother, Alfred, in 1910. By then he was frail, wasted, and in ill health. He died in March 1920.
His resource books are preserved in the Bodleian Library museum in Oxford.

This was a beguiling and thrilling read. The Surgeon of Crowthorne

Interview with local author Jason Foster

Jason Foster
Jason Foster is an author, poet, journalist and History teacher at Jamison High School in Sydney’s western suburbs. He has been published in American History magazines, Australian travel magazines and poetry anthologies in the United Kingdom. His books include Seven Bones: two wives, two violent murders, a fight for justice (with Peter Seymour), Waiting at the Gate: a Memoir (with Robyn Caughlan) and Fighting Blind (with Shane Horsburgh).

Jason Foster, Peter Seymour and Robyn Caughlan spoke at an author talk recently at Blaxland Library, so we caught up with Jason beforehand for a podcast interview. Click here to listen online, or search for ‘Listeners in the Mist’ in iTunes.

#NYR12 Twitter Night – December

You made it!  Have you enjoyed your year of reading and sharing?

Not that the other themes have been narrow, but December’s theme in the Love2Read / National Year of Reading monthly themes has been very broad: Love2Read.

Looking back over the year, what have you really enjoyed reading? Did you discover a new genre or subject, a new author or a new format (zine, ebook, blog, Twitter . . . )?

The last live Twitter discussion of 2012 will be held a week earlier than usual on December 18th, starting at 8pm Australian Eastern Standard Time (and lasting until about 10pm Western Standard Time).  

Join in using the tag #NYR12 as you discuss what you have Loved2Read this month/this year.

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