Tag Archives: literature

More Caffeine Required!

Welcome to another Weekend Coffee Share.

If we were having coffee today, I’d be asking for a hammock for my head. The Blogging A-Z Challenge has been incredibly intense and my brain is simultaneously firing on overdrive and completely exhausted, even though that makes little sense. When you’ve been writing Letters to Dead Poets for a month and even receiving replies, nothing makes much sense.

I’ll be putting out an Alphabet Soup every Sunday, which will be listed my challenge posts to date and I encourage you to do the same. It can be difficult navigate your way through missed posts. Here’s the link: Alphabet Soup

DSC_0895

Pictured with Thomas & Meg Keneally at an author lunch, Pearl Beach.

Yesterday involved another brain blow out when I attended a literary lunch with Australian authors Thomas Keneally and daughter, Meg. While you might not recognise Keneally by name, he wrote Schindler’s Ark, which became Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster movie, Schindler’s List.

Not unsurprisingly, Keneally is an incredibly intelligent man with a deep social conscience and is also a flag-waving Republican. What did surprise me, however, was his incredible wit and humour and his passion for Rugby League. I felt so incredibly blown away meeting this  inspiring man, who has well and truly stuck to the road less travelled and turned it into the yellow brick road. Actually, on second thoughts, he would’ve made an excellent Wizard of Oz hiding behind the curtain fiddling with the controls…no doubt with a huge grin and his gutsy laugh.

However, as much as I was thrilled to meet and listen to Thomas Keneally, I was riveted listening to his daughter, Meg, who is co-authoring this series of novels with her Dad. As a writer beavering away to get my first book out the door, I really appreciated her insights into her own journey. Just because her father is a famously successful novelist, there were no guarantees that she’d follow magically in his footsteps. As with any kid with a successful parent, it’s very hit and miss. Moreover, as she said, writing is a very solitary process, so it’s not like she’s been looking over his shoulder all her life!

Meg Keneally is an experienced, successful journalist and a Mum. Some years ago, she apparently wrote a few novels which she said wouldn’t see the light of day. That didn’t surprise me as a lot of writers have a few of those stashed in the bottom drawer. She went on, however, to explain that she was “half-baked” when she wrote them. Her choice of words immediately captured my attention. These are words I’ve used to describe my writing process, although I leave my stuff “to stew”. However, I’d never thought that I needed to cook or bake as a writer and it was only once I was fully baked, that I could finally pull off “my book”. Yet, this made a lot of sense!

After having a number of serious efforts at my “Book Project”, I’ve finally found my voice writing these Letters to Dead Poets. Indeed, I can feel that sense of galloping hooves in my head. There’s incredible momentum. Indeed, it feels like I’m on the homeward strait, even though I’m only just through the gate. I’ve only made it through H.

Why does this writing game have to be so hard? Why couldn’t that book just fall out of the sky and into my lap?

I know! I know! If it were that simple, it wouldn’t be worth reading. Or, would it?!! Am I making it all too hard?

As you can see, I’m well and truly immersed in my writing and making great leaps ahead… just in time for the kids be on school holidays. Now, I’m having to switch hats and go into the entertainment business. Not that I can or want to drop the writing project altogether. That’s the beauty of the A-Z Challenge. It keeps you in the flow so you can actually produce a body of work.

When it comes to what’s going on beyond these four walls, I have absolutely no idea. I’ll be rising to the surface 1st May and until then, the world can wait. At least, I hope it can!

If you are doing the A-Z Challenge, how are you going? Do you have a theme? Please share your links!

Hope you’ve had a great week and an even better one awaits!

The Weekend Coffee Share is hosted by Part Time Monster.  You can join this week’s Coffee Share on her blog or by clicking on the “Linkup Linky“. It’s a fabulous blogging community!

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

A Reply from Lewis Carroll #atozchallenge

There I was eating my Weetbix with its usual smattering of Pooh Bear’s honey, when a letter arrived on a silver tray. I must be getting used to strange happenings because I didn’t batter an eyelid, when the postman was a fish!

Of course, I knew straight away that the letter could only be from Lewis Carroll.

With most of us being bears of little brain, especially first thing on a Monday morning, I should probably recap. Even I am starting to forget which question I asked what poet. I hope that all makes grammatical sense. As I said, it’s first thing on Monday morning. No further explanation required…just more caffeine!

I asked Lewis Carroll about whether children should be allowed to go on such dangerous adventures, especially all by themselves without a responsible adult. Even though Alice’s adventures in Wonderland all turned out to be a dream, surely even such dreams are dangerous in themselves and should be discouraged! I’m sure some would even argue that dreaming should be banned!

So, without any more of the ado for which I’m renowned, here is his letter:

Alice Tea Party

Dear Rowena,

Thank you so much for your fascinating letter. I’ve been asleep for such a long time and so much has happened all around me. It’s all so exciting!

Anyway, you asked me about whether it was safe for children to have adventure, even in their dreams.

Well, to find your answer, I did what I did right back in the beginning. I went and asked Alice and all of a sudden the answer popped straight into my head:

Doors are meant to be opened. Otherwise, why is there a key?

It made sense to me so I hope it also makes some kind of sense to you as well!

Naturally, I am looking forward to joining you and the family for a tea party at your earliest convenience.

By the way, you forgot to tell me that airplanes have been invented. I’ve been darting all over the world and having all sorts of adventures. The strangest thing happened though. They wouldn’t let me take my knife and fork on board. How are you supposed to go on an adventure without a knife and fork? They’ve been everywhere with me. That’s been another one of those conundrums.

Aside from my troubles with the knife and fork, it’s such a thrill to be alive!

Carpe diem. Seize the day! Paris, Rome, London, New York…next stop Sydney!

I dropped my watch in a cup of tea

And now time can’t catch up with me!

That’s the first spot of poetry I’ve written so far!

Cheerio!

Many thanks and fond regards,

Lewis Carroll.

I think I might go and drop my watch in a cup of tea as well. That sounds like such a jolly good idea!

Thank you so much for joining me on on this journey with Dead Poets. It’s definitely not the sort of journey which should be undertaken alone and I might be needing some help holding up m head. I’ve been learning so much. Gone on so many adventures re-reading their work , that my brain is growing exponentially and will soon burst through and start poking through my ears. Deary me, I hope it doesn’t start waving at everyone or I won’t get any work done.

So, the journey continues and tomorrow I’ll be back with D.

“No puppy dogs. That is NOT “D for dog!”

Best wishes and thanks or stopping by,

xx Rowena

 

 

Letters To Dead Poets-AA Milne #atozchallenge

Hi Christopher Robin’s Dad,

This is J & A’s Mum.

Not sure whether you remember me. My Mum used to read Winnie the Pooh to me when I was very small and now that I’ve grown up, I’ve been reading your books and poems to my children. My favourite poems are: Vespers and Now I am Six.

When I was one,
I had just begun.
When I was two,
I was nearly new.
When I was three,
I was hardly me.
When I was four,
I was not much more.
When I was five,
I was just alive.
But now I am six,
I’m as clever as clever.
So I think I’ll be six
now and forever.

Now We Are Six, By A. A. Milne

 

By the way, in case you hadn’t noticed, my son looks quite a lot like your Christopher Robin. Indeed, he could’ve stepped straight out of the pages of your books.

Well, at least, that was: Once Upon A Time…

Christopher Robin Milne

Christopher Robin Milne & Winnie the Pooh.

You see, he’s no longer six and we now have to double that score. That’s right! He recently turned twelve and has just started high school, which as I’m sure you’d appreciate, was quite a shock! It doesn’t seem that long ago that he was very young…just like your Christopher! I have no issues about him growing up. Indeed, I’m rather relieved that he’s not out there chasing Heffalumps and Whoozles and looking for the East Pole. That’s enough to give even the most courageous parent a series of heart attacks!

Jonathon wharf alone

Our son looking rather Christopher Robinish.

Speaking of growing up, I was wondering why Christopher Robin never grew up? Why did you stop writing about him and telling him stories about all his toys? Why didn’t the story telling grow up with him?

It’s not that I mean to be rude but is the reader just meant to passively sit back and not share their opinions or respond to an author’s work in any way? Or, are we allowed to think? Have opinions and instead of just being written to, can we readers actually write back? Express our views?

Well, at least, I think so but perhaps I’ll disagree when I also become “an author”.

Well, being what Owl would call “impudent” and others might consider “thoughtful”, I decided to send you a poem I wrote about my son being 12. You could say that to get to this poem, we’ve doubled Now We Are Six…applying some simple calculation.

Poem: Somewhere In Between.

but somewhere in between…

my feet now touch the ground

though my thoughts are

somewhere in the clouds.

I look out my bedroom window

at the road which lies ahead

wondering how to get from A to B.

Do I really have to walk?

Why can’t I take a jumbo jet?

I don’t have all the answers.

Indeed, I don’t even know

which questions I should ask.

Yet, everywhere I seem to look,

all I find is rules.

Rules on rules on rules!

Be here!

Go there!

This is how to do your hair!

Living by this ringing bell,

has to be a form of hell!

Neither tall,

Nor small

but somewhere in between…

why can’t I just enjoy the view

before I grow too big?

.

I must say that the other thing that I’ve noticed now that my son is 12 and my daughter’s 10, is that I am also being forced to grow up. Just like Christopher Robin has in a sense been immortalised as a little boy, you have also been frozen in that same time warp. You will always be that father of a young boy, bringing the adventures of his toys to life through Winnie the Pooh, Eeyore, Piglet, Tigger, Kanga, Roo and Rabbit.

Most of us do not have that luxury.

It’s been wonderful experiencing my second childhood…building sandcastles, reading picture books and driving along with the likes of Eeyore in my car.That is, being able to do all these fun things without being considered “insane” or “different different”.

So, if you don’t mind me being so full of questions, I only have a couple more.

As my kids grow up, do I really have to grow up with them? Why can’t I just veer off on my own trajectory and keep on being a kid? Do my own thing?  Just asking!  After all, don’t you still feel like finger painting and making mud pies every now and then?

I thought you might have a plan. Or, perhaps I should be asking Pooh? Despite being a so-called “bear of little brain”, he really is quite a good problem solver.

Thank you very much, Mr Milne! You’re an excellent listener!

Warm regards,

Rowena

Born 18th January, 1882, Alan Alexander Milne died on 31st January, 1956 aged 74. While his ashes were scattered, there is a memorial plaque at Ashdown Forest, East Sussex, the setting for Winnie the Pooh which quotes:

“By and by they came to an enchanted place on the very top of the Forest called Galleon’s Leap.”

Which is your favourite poem by AA Milne? Or, perhaps you relate to one of the characters from Winnie The Pooh?

Personally, I feel like I am a combination of most of his characters…quite a “soup” you could say.

xx Rowena

 

Theme Reveal: Blogging A-Z April Challenge

Once,

April was so far away

like a distant star in remote galaxy.

But time has flown

faster than an eagle

and now the theme reveal

was yesterday!

While I’m still beavering away on other projects, April has snuck up behind me like a thief in a dark alley and grabbed me by the throat.

“What is your theme?” It asks in its menacing, threatening tone.

“But it’s not April yet,” I reply.

“What is your theme?”It repeats, more forcefully. There is no way out.

Feeling like a kid bluffing their way through a half-concocted assignment, I’m trying to request an extension but time waits for no one…especially dithering writers who are trying to rise above their station with seemingly clever theme ideas which don’t quite come off.

I mean, let’s be honest here. Who really has a bone fide, stimulating and equally riveting subject for each and every letter of the alphabet? You can’t all tell me that you have something riveting planned for x and z and that you don’t have at least one “forced” or dreary consolation “prize” just so you can conform to the rules and deliver!

Inspired by the iconic movie Dead Poet’s Society and Rilke’s Letters to Young Poet, my theme is:

Letters to Dead Poets.

Although to be fair, I couldn’t leave out two brilliant Australian poet’s and philosophers who are very much alive…Michael Leunig and Nan Whitcomb. Moreover, just to be difficult, I also added in an artist who I believe very much had the soul of a poet…Vincent Van Gogh. So, you could say that I’m cheating or that my theme should really read:

Letters to Dead Poets With Exceptions.

I have also chosen a bit of flexibility when it comes to fitting these characters into the alphabet.

You see, strictly adhering to the rules has never been my thing. My criterion for these poets, rather, is that they have had a significant impact on my life at some point, helping to make me the person I am today. That they have spoken to me. Not just in a cerebral sense but deep inside, like a watchmaker breathing life into those secret inner parts and making me tick or at least keep ticking often during some very challenging times when it was tempting to give up. These poets were my personal friends, mentors, motivators and life savers. As such, they were too good to be kept to myself. They had to be shared.

At this point, the project is still rather fluid. I don’t want to fence it in. Rather, I want to see where it takes us because it really could take us somewhere very exciting. After all, when you immerse yourself in the words and ideas of some of the greatest poets and thinkers of all time, you have to emerge changed in some way. It’s a must.

So, I ask you to join me on this unchartered, experimental journey back through the poets who helped make a poet…just like grain upon grain of sand being deposited on a river bed, their words and ideas have accumulated, been inhaled through my eyes and planted somewhere deep in my soul, sprouting leaves and roots which have grown up into my own voice.

I still don’t know how it’s all going to work out but please come a along for the journey!

xx Rowena

 

 

 

 

Why Write?

“All writers are vain, selfish, and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives there lies a mystery. Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand. For all one knows that demon is simply the same instinct that makes a baby squall for attention. And yet it is also true that one can write nothing readable unless one constantly struggles to efface one’s own personality. Good prose is like a windowpane. I cannot say with certainty which of my motives are the strongest, but I know which of them deserve to be followed. And looking back through my work, I see that it is invariably where I lacked a POLITICAL purpose that I wrote lifeless books and was betrayed into purple passages, sentences without meaning, decorative adjectives and humbug generally.”

-George Orwell, Why I Write

Among all of the questions writers chew over and recycle, the one I keep coming back to both in my own mind and in the works of other writers is this: “Why do I write?”

Here I am reading at about age 5 or 6...good preparation for becoming a writer.

Here I am reading at about age 5 or 6…good preparation for becoming a writer.

While plagued with writer’s block or struggling to rub two coins together, we really do have to wonder why we do it to ourselves. Why don’t we just go and get a real job?

Why, indeed.

Yet, when things are going well and we are in the zone and each and every one of our senses is fully activated and alive and the most amazing stuff just flows onto the page and we actually resolve some of those inner conundrums and make real progress then we know. We know why we put ourselves through it.

Reciting my poetry at the Shakespeare Bookshop in Paris in July, 1992. I had a little black book with my poems in.

Reciting my poetry at the Shakespeare Bookshop in Paris in July, 1992. I had a little black book with my poems in.

There is no more thrilling adventure than the creative journey. Whether it is expressed in words, paint, photography, fabric etc; the creative journey is incredibly thrilling and stretches our imagination, knowledge and often even our physical body beyond what we ever thought possible. It is pure electricity.

Writing poetry at the Hotel Henri IV, Paris July 1992. Love this photo!

Writing poetry at the Hotel Henri IV, Paris July 1992. Love this photo!

So why do I write?

I write because I am a writer. Writing is what I do. For me, writing is like breathing. I’ve been doing it seriously since I was a teenager reciting dreadful poetry about romantic rejection on the bus after school. Indeed, since I was 11 years old and Mum taught me how to spell enthusiastic and gave me my Roget’s Thesaurus. I knew, even way back then, that I wanted to be a writer! I knew who I was.

Writing in my journal while waiting to see my rheumatologist. What are the results going to be? Jan 2014.

Writing in my journal while waiting to see my rheumatologist. What are the results going to be? Jan 2014.

However, pursuing that further, why is writing like breathing for me when for someone else, it’s more like a heart attack and they’d struggle to write more than a paragraph in a life time? What determines that distinction? What makes me write and write and write. Indeed, to keep writing long after my physical body has all but fallen asleep just to get the story out? Yet, that someone else can live quite happily without ever writing a word.

Foot Writer

Foot Writer- all pose, of course!

But out of where? My head? My heart? My soul? Moreover, is it even my story to tell or does it belong to the muse? God? Where are all these ideas coming from?

Isn’t that one of our eternal conundrums and part of the writer’s quest? !!

Writing in my journal at Palm Beach yesterday. I was so focused on the view I didn't even notice the DVD player on the table. I was in the zone.

Writing in my journal at Palm Beach yesterday. I was so focused on the view I didn’t even notice the DVD player on the table. I was in the zone.

Moving on a little further, is there a distinction between someone who writes privately for themselves and those writers who see writing is as a vocation and for them, if they don’t publish, they shall surely perish?

Personally, I do believe that writing with a view to publication is a different ball game and I guess this is why I am getting to  with this title. Why jump through hoops and push yourself beyond survival in the same way a marathon runner  pushes their mind, body and spirit beyond breaking point with the faith (or is it simply hope) of reaching the finish line. For writers, financial security is usually a pipe dream and we somehow survive on thin air and relationships with our nearest and dearest can become severely strained as our focus fixates on the laptop, word count and the intricacies of fictional characters instead of those we say we love. After all, writing usually demands silence or at least a sense of peace and that really doesn’t sit well with physical human interaction.

What follows is a big of a debate: Why write: the case against and Why Write: the Affirmative. I’d love to generate a bit a discussion happening so please comment, debate, disagree and provide links to relevant posts

This has been W for Why Write for the Blogging A-Z April Challenge.

xx Rowena

When The New Yorker Came To Sydney.

Last week, I was absolutely stoked when I found a copy of the New Yorker when I took our daughter to her doctor’s appointment, instead of the usual trashy magazines. For a New Yorker, this would be hardly surprising but when you’re in Sydney, Australia, finding a copy of The New Yorker is a rare treat. It was time to celebrate!

Who hasn’t experienced the joy of being camped at the doctor’s waiting so long you’re putting down roots and all you have is a stack of trashy magazines for entertainment?  I’m sure the world over there are those familiar looking piles of trashy magazines, which should have been pulped long before publication. You know the sort of stuff I’m talking about where those flashy, glossy pages are smothered in the latest “Kardashian Krisis” and other celebrity crap. If you’re really lucky, there might also be some token National Geographics but don’t hold your breath!!

Knowing what to expect, I always BYO. Whenever I head down to Sydney for my specialist appointments, I usually take a choice of two books, a handful of pens and a writing pad to capture fleeting threads of inspiration. I must say that on some occasions, I’ve been bunkering down to write what seems like my entire life story, while I wait. It is nothing to wait for 1-2 hours for an appointment and indeed, there is a sign telling you to allow half a day. All this endless interminable waiting is all for a fleeting 15-30 minute appointment. While this might sound pretty dreadful, especially if you are seeing multiple specialists, it is what it is. I see my specialists for free so I’m not complaining. I just come prepared.

However, I can sure pick the newbies turning various shades of red and emitting shots of steam through their beetroot red ears while they openly complain that “being sick is a full time job”. Most of them could well be transferred to Emergency for immediate anger management. That said, being diagnosed with a serious disease is hard enough. Being forced to spend those precious, rapidly ticking away last minutes of your imminently evaporating life in the bland boredom of a doctor’s waiting room staring at white walls camouflaged by fancy prints, is enough to push even the most mild-mannered Clark Kent over the edge!! Trust me! I know!

I don't think hospital was on Dr Suess's list.

I don’t think hospital was on Dr Suess’s list.

Of course, nobody includes being stuck in a doctor’s waiting room on their bucket list when they have 24 hours to live! Not on your life!!!

However, all my expectations of waiting room literature were turned around last week when I took our daughter to her specialist appointment. Much to my delighted amazement, I found a copy of The New Yorker on the very top of the pile. Wow! I was thrilled. Indeed, “I had chills.  They’re multiplying and I’m losing control…” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J01QPxZFlw4

A cartoon from the New Yorker, which  I photographed on my phone.

A cartoon from the New Yorker, which I photographed on my phone.

The New Yorker is a rare breed in Australia so I was almost thankful that the doctor was late. I was glued to the pages and really had to peel myself away. Indeed, I was even taking photos of the funnies with my phone and seriously hoping the doctor didn’t catch me in the act. Of course, I was doing this in the name of serious journalism…snapping gourmet morsels to feed my blog!

The Statue of Liberty welcomes this adventurous Aussie Dreamer to the Big Apple.

The Statue of Liberty welcomes this adventurous Aussie Dreamer to the Big Apple.

For a few fantastic moments there, I felt myself being transported over the Pacific Ocean touching down for a refueling stopover in Hawaii to meet Max the Dog and indulge in a bit of Hula. Then, I was on a bit of a stop start journey through LA, New Orleans, Washington and finally touching down in New York in such a manner that I didn’t get my Wonder Woman cape caught on one of those spiky bits on the Statue of Liberty.

Just as well I didn't start singing and dancing in the waiting room! I have absolutely no shame!

Just as well I didn’t start singing and dancing in the waiting room! I have absolutely no shame!

I’m in New York and I can even hear Frank Sinatra singing New York New York: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K-0nNWOKK2Q

Though still sitting in the waiting room, I’m a  real New Yorker or at least a New Yorker with an Australian accent. Well, make that a sedated New Yorker with an Australian accent. Being a rather slow walker who doesn’t wake up before midday without intravenous caffeine infusions, I’d look like a comatose zombie among the fast-paced New Yorkers.

But then the dream shatters…

The door swings open and all my fantasies of New York are put on hold. The doctor is ready and it’s now time to discuss why my daughter doesn’t eat.

Humph! No more New York…New York…New York!

I’ve touched down with a painful thump and it’s time for a brutal reality check!!

New York…LA,Honolulu,Sydney, Wahroonga….Can’t keep the doctor waiting!

The door closes.

Have you ever been to New York and have any stories to tell? I am learning the fine art of living vicariously.

xx Rowena

 

Who is Don Tillman? The Rosie Project Uncovered.

Who is Don Tillman?

That’s the question I’ve been asking myself since reading Graeme Simsion’s  best-selling novel, The Rosie Project and its sequel: The Rosie Effect.

Both books were written in the first person through the voice of Don Tillman, a quirky scientist who developed a questionnaire to find a wife.  This voice is perfectly maintained throughout, giving the book a strong autobiographical feel as though there is no author. Indeed, Simsion has climbed so deeply inside Don Tillman’s skin, that I had to ask…Is he Don Tillman? They’re seemingly one and the same.

For those of you who haven’t read the books, Don Tillman, reminds me of Sheldon from the hit TV series Big Bang Theory. Yet, although they’re birds of a feather, Don is very much his own man. Well, he would be his own man if I wasn’t questioning how much of the author went into the supposed character. I also have a tough time separating Sheldon the character  from actor Jim Parsons. They also seem so seamlessly the same.

However, while I’ve never had the opportunity to meet Jim Parsons in real life, last Thursday night I had dinner with Graeme Simsion and my antennae were out. Was he Don Tillman? Or, as his creator, was he an exceptionally good impersonator?

So who is Don Tillman?

Don Tillman is an Associate-Professor of Genetics. He has an obsession with detail, is highly scheduled and when it comes to reading social situations,  he’s absolutely clueless. The crux of the book is that he’s looking for a wife. Having failed dismally at conventional dating, he’s now taking a purely logical approach and has devised a questionnaire to screen for potential wife candidates. He hypothesizes that the questionnaire will speed the process up by quickly eliminating unsuitable prospects and ultimately yielding the perfect wife.

The longer answer about Don’s identity is much more complex.

No doubt, Simsion has been asked many times if he’s Don Tillman, and came prepared. The answer is no. Apparently, the character of Don was inspired by a jogging buddy and the book, including the infamous yellow jacket incident, is based on true incidents. Yet, while Simsion denied that he is Don, he does admit to having some geek-like traits and concludes:

“There’s a bit of Don in all of us.”

Indeed, that’s the books’ appeal. That we’re not laughing at Don, but with him. We’ve been in his shoes at least once in our lifetimes, and know that dreadful, crushing all-consuming embarrassment when we make a mistake and all the dreadful, ensuing complications.

However, there are also those of us who have a bit more Don than most. Perhaps, that’s us. Or, perhaps it’s someone we love. Don is our Dad, a work colleague, our husband, a friend or even all of the above. Not that they necessarily recognize themselves in print. More than likely, they’ve also laughed through the book and missed seeing themselves in the mirror.

Apparently, that even includes Bill Gates. At the dinner, Simsion mentioned that Melinda Gates had given Bill the book:

“Melinda picked up this novel earlier this year, and she loved it so much that she kept stopping to read passages out loud to me. I started it myself at 11 p.m. one Saturday and stayed up with it until 3 the next morning. Anyone who occasionally gets overly logical will identify with the hero, a genetics professor with Asperger’s Syndrome who goes looking for a wife. (Melinda thought I would appreciate the parts where he’s a little too obsessed with optimizing his schedule. She was right.) It’s an extraordinarily clever, funny, and moving book about being comfortable with who you are and what you’re good at. I’m sending copies to several friends and hope to re-read it later this year. This is one of the most profound novels I’ve read in a long time.[1]

This, of course, brings The Rosie Project and The Rosie Effect back to me.

It is certainly no secret that I absolutely love these books and have almost been flagging strangers down in the street recommending they read it. With all the millions and millions of books in this world and given that my house is bursting at the seams with books, what is it about these books? Why are they so special?

Personally, I related to the chaotic, seemingly disorganized character of Rosie in The Rosie Project. Rosie is spontaneous and chaotic like myself and I pictured her as a bit of a wild character with black lipstick, locks of wild red curly hair which she swirled into a bun and wearing vintage clothing. I have also know quite a few Don’s in my time, and taken them clothes shopping and given them dating advice.

However, as I was swept along by the story, I didn’t twig that I’d only ever seen Rosie through Don’s eyes. However, in The Rosie Effect, there are just a couple of lines of dialogue between the members of her study group, which revealed that Rosie is more like Don than I’d thought. That it’s more than likely that Rosie is on the Autism Spectrum as well.

Before I head off, I just wanted to emphasize that neither of these books judge or ridicule people on the Autism Spectrum. If anything, they lift the lid on the Autistic mind and help us better understand some its quirks and some of the ways it beats to a different drum. There’s perhaps an implicit hope that through this greater understanding, that we could become more inclusive as a community. Less judgemental. Indeed, wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a more diverse, eclectic and inclusive community where there is no prescription to belong? You simply come as you are and you’re in.

I will write more about what I learned about Graeme Simsion the man and the writer in my next post. As you can see it was a very productive evening and I even left buying another set of books to give away to some treasured friends.

Have you read the books? If so, I’d love to hear your reflections!

Xx Rowena

PS I was researching dyslexia tonight and came across this spelling of Asberger’s which made me laugh: “My son has mild arseburgers”. Someone commented: “arseburgers” – a minced rump steak?

[1] Bill Gates, http://www.gatesnotes.com/Books/The-Rosie-Project, July 12, 2014.