Jan. 2nd, 2015

highlyeccentric: A photo of myself, around 3, "reading" a Miffy book (Read Miffy!)
Currently Reading: Barbara Baynton: Between Two Worlds, a biography of an Australian author. Contemporary with Lawson, Patterson et al, and friends with Rose Scott and her lot as well, but hardly ever mentioned alongside either set. A .txt file of her collection 'Bush Studies' is on Gutenberg Australia.

Beyond (Straight and Gay) Marriage, Nancy D. Polikoff: I've been wanting to read this for ages, and second-hand copies online were stupidly expensive. Picked up this one at Goulds for 16 bucks, and lo, it is good. Super US-centric, but that does have the benefit of explaining a lot of the standard assumptions of US-oriented marriage activists for me. It's an interesting read. Polikoff takes the line that many people, not just same-sex couples, are disadvantaged by a system which privileges married couples over unmarried as well as hetero over other, and marriage over other family structures (she cited the example of US woman who was denied hospital access to see her stepson, and a woman who was denied the right to have her elderly father added to her rent-controlled household because he was not her partner). Polikoff interprets 60s and 70s feminist, lesbian and other civil rights challenges to the law as aiming not to expand the benefits of marriage but to ensure legal and financial security for various family types: illegitimate children, lesbian mothers, stay-at-home fathers and extended family groups were all important. She details a range of legal changes arising from this agenda (eg, one chap who won the right to receive survivors' benefits after the death of his wife, his lawyer successfully arguing that although he had not previously been supported by his wife, one of the key purposes of survivors' benefits was to allow a child to continue to be raised by a stay-at-home parent after the death of the other parent, and he, the father, would be able to do so if he could receive survivor's benefits.)
This all hits very close to home, as some of the not-gay-marriage scenarios she outlines involve foster families, extended relative carers, etc. So it's interesting reading but is kind of stressing me out.

Recently Finished:

A stack of Harry Potter fanfiction, onna plane.

The Bridegroom: StoriesThe Bridegroom: Stories by Ha Jin

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I actually didn't finish this collection. It was very well-written, no doubt about that, but I found its appeal very... variable. For instance, the longest and most-acclaimed story, concerning efforts by a regional Chinese TV company to stage a tiger fight with a real tiger (and the hilarious fall-out that ensues) didn't grab me at all.

The collection had many things I like in short stories: domestic detail, a knack for indicating cultural particularities while conveying that they are to be taken for granted and not exotic at all. However... )



The Harp In The SouthThe Harp In The South by Ruth Park

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This was as delightful as promised. I've not read many stories about poor urban australians, or novels about poor australians which aren't comedies. Comic tales of the struggling family on the land, yes, but urban slum dwellers? Not so much. There is warmth and good humour in this novel, but it's not a comedy. It's starkly realistic at times about the financial and social burdens the central family bear: in particular, I was impressed with the way Park empathises with without really excusing the alcoholic father, and the way she does not give Rowie an 'out' from poverty even as Rowie clearly forms a healthier romantic and married relationship than her mother's.

thinkings about race )



Pat Barker, Regeneration trilogy: Three reviews hereunder )



To Read Next:
I hadn't expected to read so much this holiday. I've spent about sixty bucks on second hand books already, most of which I shall pass on to others before I leave. I've bought Alexis Wright's Carpentaria to read while up north.

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