I recently made the mistake of sharing a complimentary email from a reader with one of the funnier bastards in my larger-than-life clan. He read it, snorted and accused my correspondent of “just blowing wind up your arse”.

Well, pardon my billowing skirts, but is there anyone out there who is immune to the unexpected thrill of walking over an air grate?

Yes, it makes us blush, wondering what we may have inadvertently revealed. But don’t try to tell me that a well-placed jet of air doesn’t feel good. Particularly when it comes unexpected, in the midst of a long, hot, dry spell.

Novel writing can be such a tortuous exercise in delayed gratification. Sometimes years of silence separate writer and reader, and when that silence is finally broken, it might be thrilling, disappointing or even shattering for the lonely worker of words.

The wonderful YA author Michael Gerard Bauer recently posted some tongue-in-cheek advice on facebook, quoting no less a source than John Steinbeck: “Unless a reviewer has the courage to give you unqualified praise, I say ignore the bastard.”

Hear hear. The risk in giving unqualified praise is that it opens one up to some unpleasant accusations. But I’m in the mood to throw caution to the wind and ask the following authors to step over the air grate.

Firstly, Melina Marchetta. Having privately gushed over Finnikin of the Rock,Ā  I am happy to blow wind up her skirt publicly. One jet each for the well-rounded characters (especially the diabolical Evanjalin), the fiendishly good dialogue and an all-round rollicking good read.

Ditto, Alison Goodman with The Two Pearls of Wisdom. A standout amongst the dragonesque fantasy series that have become popular in recent years. I devoured it in a weekend, back glued to the couch, legs propped in the air.

And finally, Sonya Hartnett, famously dubbed ‘the greatest Australian novelist of her generation’ (though Tim Winton might dispute the claim, being only seven or eight years older).

Her latest offering, Butterfly, wraps the reader so convincingly in the prickly skin of a fourteen-year-old that it is impossible not to feel for her in shuddering detail. Hartnett is no less convincing in the viewpoints of the child’s charismatic and enigmatic brothers and the self-deluding and adulterous housewife next door. A masterful rendering with a disturbing ending that may well elude younger readers.

I’m a fan of all three writers and am happy declaring my colours. There are enough fine books in this world to keep me busy; I’ll save my breath for them and let silence serve as comment on lesser offerings.

  1. belindajeffrey says:

    honestly, if you can’t blow wind up the skirts of someone you admire, then what joy is there in life. God knows I have enough hot air to spare. CB – you’re great!

  2. Yeah, that’s right, girl! Long may the wind blow up your skirts, Christine.
    I’m rooly, rooly looking forward to reading ‘Dust’, so there, Mr Funnier bastard. hehe šŸ™‚

  3. Lynne Green says:

    Nice to see someone embracing the positive, not the negative. I hope your skirts are as swirly as the aurora.

  4. Chris, once again a superbly written Blog.

    I packed Alison Goodman’s novel Two Pearls of Wisdom with me to Thailand. Couldn’t put it down. Eagerly await her sequel Necklace of the Gods.
    As I await Dust.

  5. chrisbongers says:

    Thank you ladies, but I didn’t mean to hog the air grate – Surely you have a current favourite author deserving of a quick gust in the gusset?

  6. Tim says:


    Grate/great way to start a post writing about current authors you genuinely admire -so first, thanks for the original style. šŸ™‚

    Hadn’t come across that Steinbeck quote before, so appreciated it all the more this time. He was a prickly SOB, but on a good day was very clued-up about keeping some manageable perspective on life while being a writer.



  7. chrisbongers says:

    Thanks Tim. I don’t want to mix any metaphors here, but it would be grate to see readers plug some favourite local authors here. Here’s mine – I’ve just re-read “Walking Naked” by Alyssa Brugman – a wonderful YA read for girls.

  8. mgbauer says:

    Hi Chris. Well then I’d like to send a jet of air the way of Steven Herrick (although from what he tells me he only wears skirts on special occasions).
    In the past the thought of reading a verse novel was too much for me until I read Steven’s By The River which I loved. Recently I read Cold Skin which was also great. I haven’t had a chance to read his first prose novel Rhyming Boy yet but hope to soon. Steven always manages to say much with just the right words and the bonus is, he’s a nice guy as well.

  9. chrisbongers says:

    I was wondering when I was going to get some guys over the grate! Instead of just muscling Steven into place, you can stand there beside him – I’ve just sent off an author questionaire with you in my “authors I admire” list. Bet that ruffles your shorts!

  10. mgbauer says:

    Chris, what can I say? My boxers are billowing and my cheeks are blushing (those of the facial variety of course).

  11. chrisbongers says:

    Of course! šŸ˜‰

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s