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Lavinia & Brendan's Scour the Earth!

¨You think of travellers as bold, but our guilty secret is that travel is one of the laziest ways on earth to pass time¨ Paul Theroux.

Diary Entries

Saturday, 02 May 2009

More 10 Word Book Reviews....

Dreams from my father - Barack Obama
Surprisingly candid, moving memoir. Pity Brendan left it at hostel.


Tales of Beedle the Bard - JK Rowling
Let’s us pretend Harry not gone from lives. Otherwise average.
L: 3 B: 1.5

Dubliners - James Joyce
Poignant, real, unforgiving. Collection as whole stronger than individual stories.
B: 3 L: Aborted after two stories.

Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Graham
Jolly good read. That dastardly old toad. The original hobbits.
L: 4

Peter Pan - JM Barrie
Brilliant satire. Surprised at manipulative Peter, pitiful Hook, annoying Wendy.
L: 5 B: 4.5

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde - RL Stevenson
Great, scary and uncomfortable story, tediously written.
L: 4 B: 2.5

Lonesome Traveller - Jack Kerouac
Wonderful, sad stories with hope-filled insights. Great companion.
B: 4

The Gathering - Anne Enright
Tremendous and devastating images, but suggest halve length, double plot.
L: 3 B: 2.5

Freakonomics - S Levitt and S Dubner
Interesting analysis, doesn’t recognise own weaknesses and ideological bias.
L: 3.5 B: 3.5

The Initimable Jeeves - PG Wodehouse
British idle rich stories always enjoyable. Off with their heads.
B: 3.5

Swann’s Way - Marcel Proust
Beautiful writing but painfully tedious. Insights drummed in to detriment.
B: 3.5

The Road - Cormac McCarthy
Massive achievement for such a simple story. Beautiful, sad, engaging.
L: 5 B: 4

Signet Book of American Essays
Fascinating, unusual collection across span of American thinking.
L: 4 B: 4

Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
Brilliant, rollicking story of French revolution. Pity Lucie so painful.
L: 4.5 B: 4

Mrs Dalloway - Virginia Woolf
Devastating portrait of mental illness and acceptance of aristocratic expectations.
L: 4 B: 4

The Alchemist - Paolo Coelho
Incoherent mish-mash of myths. Message = value yourself, value material wealth.
B: 0.5 L: Didn’t read. B no one to blame but himself.

Breath - Tim Winton
Hooray for Tim! Lyrical, evocative description. Sad, local story.
L: 4 B: 4

Why I Write - George Orwell
Didn’t realise he was so cantankerous, racist and socialist. Fun.
B: 3

Fiesta: The Sun Also Rises - Ernest Hemingway
Terrible irredeemable characters. Why did we love it so much?
L: 4.5, B: 4

Suite Francaise - Irene Nemirovsky
Severely indicts French selfishness and sympathetic to German soldiers. Heartbreaking.
L: 3 B: 3

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Location: Canada

White Noise - Don Delillo
"A book so post-modern it disappeared up its own behind."
L: 3.5

A Thousand Splendid Suns - Khalid Hosseini
"Same as kite runner but still beautifully moving and tragic."
L: 4 B:3.5

The First Third - Neal Cassady
B: "Interesting journey into Neal's childhood and pysche. Lots of sex."
L: "Should never have been published. I repeat, never been published."
N.B: Brendan has looked for this book for 10 years. Lavinia has never read it.

My Name is Asher Lev - Chaim Potok
"Intriguing and brilliant coming-of-age/artistic discovery of NYC Hasidic Jew."
L: 5 B: 5

All the Pretty Horses - Cormac Mcarthy
"Sparse, beautiful writing. Country and characters raw, honest, flawed. Perfect."
L: 5 B:5

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - Mark Twain
"Race conscious and racist simultaneously. Lavinia was perfect as Huck."
L: 4 B: 3.5

America's Best Political Writing - Various
"Great year for it. Eulogies for Republicans, bouquets for Obama".
L: 4 B:4

Aura - Carlos Fuentes
"Rubbish misguided ghost story. Don't bother. Mexico has better writers."
L: 1 B: 0.5

Occassion for Loving - Nadine Gordimer
"Admirable achievement to create all-round awful characters yet good book."
L: 3 B: 3

As I Lay Dying - William Faulkner
"Stunning voices, frustrating, tragic story. Palpable with sorrow and despair."
L: 4 B: 4.5

The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald
"Knock all the women's heads together and all the bloody men too."
L: 3.5
(Brendan opted out as has read it twice already. Would have given 5)

The Red Badge of Courage - Stephen Fitzgerald
"Captures pathetic mundane, muddy reality of civil war. But boring."
B: 2.5

The Tipping Point - Malcolm Gladwell
"Fascinating insights into social behaviour. Draws extremely long bows though."
B: 3.5 L: threw across room after three pages (v. rude considering not our copy of book)

Metamorphosis - Franz Kafka
"Interesting ideas. Not sure why read after all these years."
L: 2.5 B: 2.5

Change We Can Believe In - Obama for America
"Best speech on race ever given. Great policy prescriptions. Infatuated."
B: 4 L: threw across room after three pages (she thinks ok considering our copy of book. Brendan disagrees vehemently. Lavinia replies that idolisation is a sin.)

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Location: More book reviews..., Mexico

Voss, Patrick White

L´s review - ¨Expansive, layered although simply filling in time before tragic demise¨.

B´s review - ¨Expansive, layered tragedy of human smallness and futile longings¨.

L: 3.5, B: 4.5

Everyman, Phillip Roth

¨Another dirty old man perpetrating pathetic fantasies on bored readers¨.

L: 1, B: 1

The English Patient, Michael Ondaatje

¨Would you just die already? Idiotic metaphors, bad writing, characters¨

L: 2, B: 1.5

A Death in Brazil, Peter Robb

¨Very engaging, personal history of modern Brazil. Go buy Eliza!¨

L: 3.5, B 3.5

No1 Ladies Detective Agency, Alexander McCall Smith

¨Gorgeous character, entertaining , short on suspense, high on sentimentality¨.

L: 4, B: 2.5

The Moonstone, Wilkie Collins

¨Drawnout saga of theft of moonstone that wasn´t theirs anyway¨

L: 3,

B did not read as sick of triumphal stories of colonial appropriations.

L says it was because book is long and B is a slow reader.

B says he is a critical and considerate reader. Not everything is about being first.


Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Location: Mexico

Rather than bore you with travel stories, we´re going to give 10 Word Reviews of various things, mostly books. At this stage we´re reading a lot from the ¨dirty old man genre¨, e.g Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Mario Vargos Losa, Philip Roth.. And yes we´ll overuse the hyphen to keep to 10 words!

Atonement, Ian McEwan

¨McEwan good storyteller but mediocre writer. Self-righteous, over-written. Irredeemable protagonist¨.

L: 2 B: 2.5 (out of 5)

Love in the Time of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

¨Masterful characterisation, always morally problematic, witty, drifts into laboured sex-fest.¨

L: 3, B: 4

Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole

¨Not reading this is an offence against taste and decency¨.

L: 5, B: 5

Sound and the Fury - William Faulkner

¨Brilliantly confusing, Joyce-like penetration of human mind. Concentrate hard friends!¨

L: 4.5, B: 4

The Longest Decade - George Megalogenous

¨Posits Keating, Howard as like-minded economic warriors. Intelligent, accessible analysis¨.

L: 4, B: 4

Photos - Click Below

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Recent Messages

From Peter
Deeply distressed by news about Santa. Don't tell present Coalition leadership.

Looking forward to PowerPoint presentation of sunsets and flowers (with wine).
Response: We will need to borrow Brendan's dad's laser pointer for powerpoint presentation!
From Deidre/Graham
How we enjoyed your French and Italian pics. Can't wait to have you both home safely. Yes we did get your gorgeous card and yes I love slide shows but be warned, not all people do, so don't be disappointed when you start to tell someone about your trip and they say "thats great, did you hear about the weather here yesterday and give you the football scores"!! Travel safely.
Response: Excellent to hear - will see you very soon! Hear you have been helping with the moving, our timing seems to be a bit too convenient.
From Gillian Dobson
Hi Guys, loving all the pictures you both look very happy, enjoying the food and of course the allessential wine. Have a great time in Africa will look forward to seeing the pictures, its going to be rather boring when you return home there will be nothing to look for on your site on a Friday afternoon. what to do, what to do, guess I will have to do some work :-) Cheers Gillian
Response: Just doing African photos now. We'll have to set up a photo page of "boring life in Canberra" so you can still take a break on Fridays! See you soon!
From Tony and Joyce
hi lavina and brendan pictures are great, you are certainly having the best time, its starting to get cooler here ,good news for you ,Rhys and Sheree are engaged love joyce and tony
Response: Thanks Tony and Joyce. Very excited to hear that Rhys and Sheree are getting hitched! 'bout time us younger cousins started throwing parties. Really looking forward to catching up with you at the engagement party. xo Lavinia
From Deidre/Graham
At long last some more photos!Great to see the photos of Scotland and Iain. Wow walking the Camino, we are impressed. Have you read Shirley MacLaines book "The Camino"? Wish we could be with you in Paris, don't miss Venus de Milo and Mona Lisa two great ladies!! We think of you both often, Guess you can write a book on strange foods in strange places to defray costs. Travel safely!!
Response: We're still putting some more up - sorry we've been so slack! We are impressed with Carivaggio's Judith! Just starting to see Rome and heading to Vic Falls, Kruger NP and Pretoria before very happily coming home. Can't wait to see you. I hope you got our postcard... xo L&B
From sarah
Hey Guys, thanjs for the Bday card, you are a much better friend then I am. I hope the trip is still going well. You must be getting tired after months of travelling. I looj forward to having you home in a few months. Love Sarah
Response: We hear you are aiding and abetting? Hope the move is treating you well. Looking forward to catching up at start of June. xo L&B
From Gillian Dobson
Hey there guys just quickly touching base with you to let you know I am moving on from operations and will be joining Sandy and her team in UHM, time for new challenges! Carmen is over due at the moment and we are all waiting patiently for her daughter "Jane" to make an appearance. Nedra will be in today to show off 'Avinka' to everyone, her daughter is just lovely. Lavinia, I hope that your family is ok with this dreadful bushfire situation in Victoria? Take care I look forward to seeing more pictures soon.

Cheers Gillian
Response: Thanks Gillian - and thanks for your other email. Look out Africa! Will reply in more detail soon. Send my love to Carmen and Nedra. Congrats on UHM placement too! Lavinia
From Seb
Hey guys, love the photos and some of the captions are hilarious! you should consider writing a guide book to america a la an edgy bill bryson. congratulations on your engagement! :)

Response: Seb - you have no idea how many times I claim we should start some sort of blog and how 'hilarious' we are. And then I get flighty and bored and know that I would be useless at it! However, if bloody Gwyneth Paltrow can 'goop' I have every right to shove my pearls of wisdom onto the world too!
From Deidre
Happy Birthday, I hope Ellen's shorthand version was understood! Loved the pics of Toronto. Can you believe that Abbey and Louis are now installed in Prahran, do trust that they both have a great year. Will look out those addresses very soon.
Response: Thanks Deid, although I'm a little late on my thanks. Apparently Louis made it to his first day of school so he's on track to surviving Melbourne! xo
From Deidre
Just checking on you both, thought I would tell you that it is actually hot here today, one day of summer and we are only half way through January.!!! Tom and Ellen coming here on Thursday for a week, Tom is going to have surfboard lessons so hope the weather holds. Love from us all
Response: Happy Australia Day! Hope it's a hot one. xo
From Sarah
I trust your visit to Philadelphia included a wander down a gloomy street mumbling lyrics by The Boss.... In fact, I'm surpised about your lack of Boss comments
Response: You're right, it is a deficiency of the page. Rest assured he is in our hearts.
From Xavier
Hi guys - loooks like u are continuing to have an amazing time!! Loved the photos - esp the ones of the mississippi gridion game,the armadillo and camping in Utah. And hey - that shack you stayed in in clarksdale - it looked like somewhere someone would take someone to kill them - scary!! X
Response: You would absolutely love the south - we'll definitely come back with you!
From Peter
The silence and white spaces on your site are presumably an intential representation of the weather where you are at the moment.

Maybe you've stopped reading and taken to burning books to keep warm.

Happy holiday within a holiday.
Response: Yep, we've stopped reading. Our attention spans have decreased with increase of American media. Apparently knowledge is not power, a loud voice and abusive language is.
From the Green Family
Hi Vinnie & Brendan, we send our love and best wishes for Christmas, hope you have warm coats as we see pictures of lots of snow in the US. We will drink to your health on Christmas Day and wish you were with us.
Response: We fitted in a few drinks to our health as well.... Merry christmas to you as well!
From Bob & Young Ok
Now that we are settling back in (only 3 weeks), I have started to catch up with your photos - looks like you are having a great time. We will all miss you for Christmas dinner, but I am sure you won't be missing us! Have a great Christmas.
Response: In a great American tradition we had Vietnamese food for lunch - we missed the turkey!
From Deidre
Wow! great photos, loved the Huck Finn reading bit. Keep them coming, we are all on a free ride with you.
Response: Hmm, maybe if we start charging we can extend this trip....
From Abbey & Alan
Hello, Your photos are brilliant, I have had a bit of catching up to do! Dad and i are home in Gatha now, and in need of naps due to 4am starts to the day! Love you lots
Response: We sympathise, we too are working hard. So many cable tv channels, so little time!
From Deidre/Graham
Hi yo'all keep that hillybilly music coming! Did you enjoy Santa Barbara? we did many long years ago. Rokko home now and recovering, Tom and Ellen on their perfectly best behavour for Nana. Nana now home and facing up to the fact that Christmas is coming so quickly. Sorry no Christmas present from this quarter will save for the Wedding present!!
Just love your photos and commentary. Love to you both
Response: We did like Santa Barbara although we didn't stay long. Have just spent a couple of days in Savannah, Georgia and Charleston, South Carolina. We have overdosed on antiques, pearls, and twin sets. We will miss everyone at Christmas, however will ring to catch up. love you, Lavinia
From Nedra kelaart
Hi Hope you received my earlier email. Finish work tomorrow 4/12. Hoping to have 2 weeks to myself before sleepless nights... (wishfull thinking!)
Response: Oh my goodness! How exciting. We met a woman yesterday who had a 'surprise' baby 15 years after getting her tubes tied! We have only just bought a lap top so are now catching up on emails otherwise I have been awfully slack. Take care and I hope all goes well. xo Lavinia
From Deidre & Tom
Just checking that your both alright and still having lots of fun. Nan is up at our house and looking after us for a while (as mum is in hospital for an operation but not a dramatic one).

hope to see you soon Love Tom and Deidre
Response: Hey Tom - great to hear from you!! We are in Nashville at the moment (we are very behind in posting photos). Having a great time listening to Bluegrass and country music - you and your dad would love it! We found some cowboy boots for US$1200 - they looked pretty flash. Let me know your size! Take care and give your mum a big hug for me. xo Lavinia
From Jen & Paul (London)
Hi Lavinia and Brendon,

We have had Emily & Paul here this weekend for a visit and they told us the fantastic news.
Congratulations to you both, we are thrilled for you. We would love to see you, not sure if Europe features in the worldwide adventure?
We have been looking at your travel photo's and they are awesome.
Lot's of Love, Best Wishes and Safe Travels.
Jen & Paul (London)

Response: Wonderful to hear from you!! We are absolutely hitting London town. We expect a week long itinerary of pinot and beer with your lovely selves! Thanks for your wishes, can't wait to catch up round April/May next year. Hope you are both well xo
From Peter
Your alternative reality TV idea of discarding wannabe bridesmaids is unacceptably gender exclusive.

How about you identify during your travels exotic wedding customs and let the audience choose the best for your Special Day.

They break porcelain in Germany.

They kidnap the groom just before the honeymoon in Saudi Arabia.

In Taiwan, apparently, people ask the groom "about the bride's private things" (whatever that means) and he pays out money if wrong.

Fun for all.
Response: Brilliant! You've jsut been hired as our wedding planner!
From Nerida & Gareth

Play your cards right, and it just gets to be more fun from here on!

Jumping up and down and giving you hugs and all that all at once...

the ones over in Perth (come visit, come visit!) xxxx
Response: Thanks for exercise on our behalf! After Utah we've had enough of desolate, isolated states..
From Sarah
Fantastic ring. God I hope you got hitched in Vegas. By Elvis.
Hope you're in London in April!
Response: Vegas was way too seedy to be exciting.. can't believe we were so surprised! Yep, plans are to be in London then, pray tell you will be there then too!!
From Ella
Hi hi

Congratulations! I am so happy for you both - as is my entire office ( I announced the news to everyone when I opened your email this morning) Josh and I look forward to celebrating with you when you arrive in DC.

I have a splitting headache but I can't stop smiling - what a night what a night.

Response: Absolutely - and now we can talk about important things like what dog the Obamas will buy... Can't wait to be in DC soon. We're in Utah doing rounds of south west canyon country. You should make plans to come here, it's another world. xo