Tag Archives: mental illness

Listing

Coming up to Christmas the media fills up with list articles. Top Tens of this and that. Bests and Worsts. Most memorable. The Season/Year/Decade/Century in Review and so on. It will be even more rife this year as we’re ending a decade.

Why do so many of these get published? Because they’re easy to write. Because people like them and argue over them. And because they’re usually a great filler at a time of year when less newsworthy stuff happens.

I indulged in lists here last year. This year I’m so befuddled I’m listing sideways myself. Better to be listing than listless, I guess. Here be some recommendations from me:

Favourite things I read in 2009, (old or new)

A Beginner’s Guide to Living – Lia Hills
The Big Sleep – Raymond Chandler
The Faceless Ones – Derek Landy
Henrietta – Martine Murray
Little Brother – Cory Doctorow
Paper Towns – John Green
Somebody’s Crying – Maureen McCarthy
Ten Mile River – Paul Griffin

Picture books:
Mannie & The Long Brave Day – Martine Murray & Sally Rippin
Isabella’s Garden – Glenda Millard

2009 favourite listens

It’s been an odd year for my iPod. Normally I buy albums. This year I purchased individual tracks and largely sat with favourite albums from 2008 – or delved into the past to discover Tom Waits, John Coltrane and retro Wilco.

Of the few new albums that have had regular rotations, my favourites have been Smoking Gun from Lady of the Sunshine, Wilco from Wilco and White Lies for Dark Times from Ben Harper & Relentless7.

2009 favourite films

Man, there were so many flicks I wanted to see this year but didn’t get to in time (District 9, Samson & Delilah, Balibo, Blessed, The Changeling, Coraline). I’ll catch some of these on video over the silly season. Of those I did get to, I really enjoyed Ponyo, Watchmen, The Reader and The Hangover. I saw the latter with a bunch of mates on a boys’ night out. Laughed until my jaw hurt.

Given my aforementioned befuddlement, I know there will be things I’ve forgotten.

Personal highlights from the year have included finding a passionate publisher for Five Parts Dead, some of the workshops I conducted with students around the state and getting to know several other authors … and then realising we all struggle with the same stuff.

Every year has its tough times too. My thoughts are with those whose lives were altered forever by the February 7 inferno, along with those confronted by cancer or mental illness. Hang tough.

The dark side of YA fiction

The Wall Street Journal recently published an article about YA fiction with the headline It was, like, all dark and stormy.

Just quietly, I’m rapt that a media outlet as big-time as the WSJ is covering YA fiction. I’m not sure I agree with the thrust of the article but its publication possibly suggests that YA won’t continue to be hidden at the back of bookstores like some adult no-go zone.

If you’re tempted to read the article, and it’s certainly worth a squiz, be warned it contains spoilers on the plots of several books. All the titles discussed have been released in the US for a while now, which is probably why the writer had no qualms about divulging story outcomes. Nonetheless, don’t say I didn’t warn you. Spoilers suck.

That caveat aside, the thesis of the article is basically that YA readers are turning to the dark side of life, voraciously consuming stories about topics such as suicide, mental illness, death, eating disorders and disaster.

My thoughts are that:
1. I don’t think this is a new trend. There are plenty of decades-old dark novels that would be retrospectively classified as YA fiction; and
2. The teen years can be dark anyway – a time of loneliness, change and altered awareness of the world.

I’ve posted previously on this latter point, informed by workshops I do with students and a secondary school short story competition I have judged for several years. As an author of YA fiction containing dark matter, I’d argue that young adults are watching and sharing the same world as the rest of us. Hopefully reading stories can help them comprehend and come to terms with a universe that no longer seems as shiny as it did during their early childhoods.