Sometime during the Australian summer of 2011, I toughened up and decided that if I wanted to try my hand at writing one day, it was high time to start learning from the pros. Perhaps it was three years spent grappling with a swag of tertiary bricks, but my inner Narnia fan appeared to have wandered off, found Cair Paravel’s media room and indulged in a blissfully endless HBO merry-go-round.
Anyway, four years out of uni, I’d found myself with an unread literary stack next to my bedside. Charlaine Harris’ first three Sookie Stackhouse novels (oh, hell what a guilty pleasure – and no, the irony of True Blood‘s broadcast parentage is not lost on me), Cronulla boy Brendan Cowell’s first effort, How It Feels, Christos Tsiolkas’ blistering The Slap. All very good. Then I gave Gregory David Roberts’ Shantaram a try. Gahhhhhhhhhh. It’s.So.THICK. The way he describes Mumbai – or Bombay, as he refers to it, from memory – is beautiful. But bloody hell. Maybe I just lack the stamina, some friends adore it and happily admit to quoting extensive passages from it after a bottle of wine during a ‘quiet’ night in.
Luckily, an equally hefty, but far more riveting read found, seduced and captivated me – George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones. Even after watching the TV series, it’s a treat. The sheer scope of this created world, but tempered with so many intricacies – mind-blowing. Christos Tsiolkas, up above, also takes the same multi-perspective, third person tack. While The Slap is contemporary, immediate and raw, A Game of Thrones is otherworldly and medieval, yet strangely here and now. The really cool detail is the idea (don’t worry, minimum spoilers) of every clan having its ‘words’ – for most, a motto is about branding/showing everyone you’re hardcore and badass. But for my favourite house, it’s a pensive, ominous acknowledgement that ‘winter is coming’. And d’oh, when I look outside, it is. On the bright side though, there’s no need for a Night’s Watch of demon hunting rangers.