Leg One: Wellington to Brisbane

Last year I came up with a reading challenge that I thought was pretty cool.  I started it, and then (surprise, surprise) I went down a tangent.  The idea was that I would read the “great [insert country] novel” of a host of countries, but that I would do this on an imaginary trip around the world.  For example, last year when I finished my New Zealand book, I checked the Wellington Airport international departures board on the website and took the first available flight (which is always to Australia).  Then I read the Great Australian Novel.  This was so interesting that I ended up reading five great Australian novels, and then stopped doing the whole challenge.

I’m going to start again, but with some changes.  This time instead of doing the “Great National Novel” I will do each countries best book of 2011 award winner.  I will also only do this trip over my summer holidays because my summer holidays are the only period in the year when I have time to read for pleasure.  As I travel I will also poke around at a few other things like the album of the year in each country, and whatever takes my fancy.

The good news is that I have already read the New Zealand best book of 2011 (Blue Smoke), so I can just jump straight on a plane for… Brisbane.  Actually, I’m already there.   I took Pacific Blue DJ67 yesterday.  When I touched down in Australia I picked up a copy of The Happiest Refugee by Anh Do, and Boy and Bear’s album (they won a lot of Australian music prizes this year).

I am quite worried about the title and the cover of The Happiest Refugee, but his comedy seems alright.

Well, mildly diverting anyway.

Much more promising is Boy and Bear who seem to have been named the Australian band of the year at the Australian music awards.  They seem to have popped up originally with a great (great) cover of Fall at Your Feet, but their original music is cool.  Rabbit Song, Mexican Mavis, Feeding Line, etc.  You can find their videos on Vimeo, but I prefer (a) to avoid ads for McDonalds whenever possible, and (b) hear a song before I see someone else’s vision of what it looks like (don’t get me started).

Now I’m going to go and rent Animal Kingdom which won pretty much every prize going at the 2010 AFI awards (the 2011 winners will be announced in January).

The last time I did this challenge I got stuck in Australia because the books I discovered were so good, and because I was sort of stunned and ashamed at how little we in New Zealand seem to know anything about books from that country.  We can say “well they don’t know anything about us either”, but I’m not sure that this is a particularly constructive approach.  One year has come around and I am struck by the same observation.  I have never heard of Anh Do, Boy and Bear or Animal Kingdom.  Of course, I am a bit out of the loop on things at the moment, but still….

I’ll let you know how happy Anh Do is when I’m done.

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