The Weekend Australian

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Cruising through the stunning scenery of Norway’s fjords


Despite the lateness, the sudden announcement causes a frenzy of activity. “The captain has notified us that the northern lights are visible to the rear of the ship.” 

Within minutes it seems every passenger on ­Hurtigruten’s MS NordkappIMG_7972 has appeared on deck in various stages of cold-weather readiness. There is ­scarcely any conversation. Even the frenzied click of cameras quickly abates. The ethereal green swirls that dance across the clear inky sky are entrancing. Our ­voyage up the Norwegian coast has promised myriad natural treasures and has already paid off.

We are cruise neophytes wary of setting out aboard the equivalent of a

Why I won’t be reading Harper Lee’s Go Set A Watchman

MockingIt’s been a while since there has been such an explosion of commentary about a book. Particularly before its release. All weekend the twittersphere has been running hot about Harper Lee’s Go Set A Watchman which is officially released on Thursday. Rarely have 140 characters been so breathlessly targeted.

To Kill A Mockingbird is probably my favourite books. Atticus Finch isWatchman probably my favourite literary character. And even allowing for the trepidation that usually accompanies the sequel or prequel to any loved novel, particularly one that is part of the canon of American literature, my order was lodged with my local bookshop and I was looking forward to diving straight in. Not now though. For me, the deluge of commentary has had the opposite effect. Atticus Finch a racist!!!!!! screamed one tweet.

Can you actually teach someone to write or is it a question of talent?

Image 1Is creative writing a natural talent or can it be taught? Other artistic endeavours, such as painting, dance and film-making are all available at universities or colleges of further education resulting in qualifications like bachelor of fine arts or bachelor of visual arts. Aushor and teacher Tegan Bennett Daylight considers the rise of the creative writing class in an article in the books section of the current The Weekend Australian.

She says that one of the most common problems emerging from the creative writing program is a “kind of flatness; a sameness that results in what American poet Donald Hall called McPoems and McStories.” With a good teacher, she says, that’s easily tackled. “A good teacher of writing won’t congratulate (the) student on his fluency, although she rewards him with decent marks for competency with the language. A good teacher should

The things they say … about books

Some things people said about books in newspapers around the world at the weekend.

“Well, I didn’t want to write 600 pages of getting even. I thought I would try to be as understanding as possible to everybody else and as rough as possible on myself. I decided not to varnish stuff.” Salman Rushdie talking to Stuart Jefferies in The Guardian about why he decided to write his memoir, called Joseph Anton, the pseudonym he adopted after the fatwa was taken out against him in 1989. 

 “Today, many towns have no bookshops. If they also have no library, where are children to find books? Is it a surprise that we are always reading horrifying statistics about the number of homes without books? If children don’t discover what books they like, they are unlikely to become life-long readers, and we are therefore heading for a less literate society. Illiteracy leads to lower skills, greater social problems, higher crime rates, and a country less able to prosper in the global jobs market. Cutting libraries is a false economy. They are the best literacy resource that we have. “ Julia Donaldson, author of  The Gruffalo, commenting on far-reaching cuts funding for UK Libraries. 


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