What are you reading?
As I’m planning a sort of war novel I’ve been keeping most of my reading round that, and recently enjoyed No Man’s Land: Writings from a World at War, a compelling international anthology of memoir and short fiction. Otherwise it’s a mixed bag. Courtesy of a great little bookshop in Fishwyck, Canberra, I’ve just finished reading Edith Wharton’s novella, Summer. She wrote it in France in 1916 in between doing voluntary war work, and it’s very different from her other novels: a myth-laden romance with Hardyesque overtones and a layered theme of explicit sexual transgressions. A real gem. Right now I’ve got my nose in Colm Toibin’s first novel, and what a first novel it is! The South is the story of a woman who leaves her husband and tries to make a new life for herself with an anarchist lover in 1950s Fascist Spain. I’m only half way through and still gawping at the power and nuance of Toibin’s language, which somehow I’d managed to forget. On the short story side I’m getting acquainted with and becoming a fan of Tove Jansson, and looking forward to the release this month of Isabelle Li’s collection, A Chinese Affair.
What are you listening to?
I can never get enough of contemporary Indigenous music. Stephen Pigram, Archie Roach, Frank Yamma, Kev Carmody and the rest of the stellar cast, I’ll be adding my tone deaf accompaniment so long as no one’s around to hear. Currently I have CAAMA’s double album, Our Home, Our Land, on the car CD player and just about know the lyrics by heart. Otherwise I’m likely to be listening to Indian ragas, usually by a man called Hariprasad Chausaria. Saying his name is like rolling lollies around in your mouth, and his birdlike flute dialogues never fail to transport me.
What are you watching?
Thanks to the man in my life I imbibe by osmosis a fair amount of footy on TV, and gobble up any good SBS movie going, particularly German, Italian and Czechoslovakian ones. I’ve also become addicted to NITV documentaries because they’re so inspiring. The power of the human spirit to cope with terrible conditions and come out compassionate and stronger for it ̶ we could do with more documentaries like that on mainstream TV. On the art side, I was lucky to catch Fiona Hall’s Wrong Way Time at the National Gallery in Canberra. I’ve long been an admirer of her exquisite, almost medieval craftsmanship, as well as her continuing critique of the damage wreaked on planet earth by the machinations of world finance.
What have you got a taste for?
Since I’m a vegetarian it’s definitely not going to be Meat. Marella jubes are another matter, likewise Minestrone soup and Marsala dessert wine, the real Marsala made in Sicily, that is. Oh, and any amount of Masala Dosas and Mango Lassis at our local Indian cafe. Mm-mmm.
What scents surround you?
I live in what is called an outer Brisbane suburb, though it’s really a wooded valley and foothills with a few horsey paddocks and houses tucked among the trees. This winter morning, walking our dogs, watching them hoover up smells of squashed toads, dogs’ urine and God knows what else, the only scent I could identify was a clean smell of cold creek water mixed with the faint scent of river grasses. Someone should bottle that.
Julie Kearney is an award-winning artist and writer whose artwork is held in public collections nationally and internationally, though these days she devotes herself exclusively to writing. Short-listed in the Queensland Literary Awards for her manuscript True History of Annie Callaghan, a fictionalised autobiography of her great-grandmother, Julie also writes fiction, literary reviews, memoir and art essays. Her work has appeared in Griffith Review, New Asian Writing, Cleaver Magazine (USA), ABC Arts Online, Stringybark and Shibboleth and other stories (Margaret River Press, forthcoming). Currently she is completing the second of a trilogy of historical novellas inspired by The Tempest. www.juliekearney.com.au.